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Lhasa Potala Palace

potala-palaceThe Potala Palace once was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama. Today the Potala Palace has been converted into a museum by the Chinese.

As for back as more than 1,300 years ago in 640, Princess Wencheng ( Emperor Taizong's niece) of the Tang Dynasty came to Tibet to join in marriage with Prince Songtsan Gampo (617-650). With her help, Songtsan established administration and military systems in Tibet.

potala-palace01For her living quarters, a palace with 1,000 rooms was constructed on the Red Hill slope and given the name Potala, which means Avalokitasvara, a holy place of Buddhism. The original building was ruined. In the 17th century, the 5th Dalai Lama (1617-1682) gave order to have it rebuilt and since then it has served as the holy residence of the successive Dalai Lama.

The Potala Palace covers an area of 360,000 square metres, with over 2,000 rooms and 34 Buddha halls. The last large repair project in the palace was conducted in the period 1989 to 1994, when the central government allocated altogether 55 million yuan (US $ 6.65 million). After the repairs, the Potala Palace shines more brilliantly atop the Red Hill. However, as the palace is hundreds of years old, its maintenance is a constant agenda item. Repairs reinforced the major part of the palace, but the architectural complex, totalling more than 2,000 halls, and cells for regular maintenance. Major efforts need to be made to solve the problems of deformation and collapse of walls, and insect's infestation of the wooden structure, as well as the rain damage to the roofs. Without changing the original nature of the cultural relics, dfforts must be made to reinforce them, such as adding reinforcing bars in the walls and tailors were organized to repair a dozen projects, and make 500-square-metres sutra cabinets and over 200 boxes for cultural relics. Whitewashing the walls, extending 100 metres or more from top to the ground, calls for more than 50 tons of limestone and red powder.

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