White Palace

Palace in Lhasa

On the roof of the Potala, the private quarters of the 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas are to the right. The Dalai Lamas would have watched festival dances performed in the courtyard below from the hidden balconies of these personal chambers.

The first room you come to is the throne room (Simchung Nyiwoi Shar), where the Dalai Lamas would receive official guests. The large picture to the left of the throne is of the 13th Dalai Lama; the matching photo of the present Dalai Lama has been removed, but his throne is marked by a huge pile of silk khataks (religious scarves). There are some fine murals here, including of the Chinese Buddhist mountain Wǔtái Shān and the mythical paradise of Shambhala on either side of of the entry, and a depiction of Bodhgaya (where the Buddha achieved enlightenment) at the far exit.

The trail continues clockwise past a room used for viewing New Year ceremonies in the Deyang Shar courtyard below into the reception hall (Dhaklen Paldseg). Next comes the meditation room, where protector gods include Nagpo Chenpo (Mahakala), the Nechung oracle and Palden Lhamo. The final room, the study of the Dalai Lama (Chimey Namgyal), has some personal effects of the Dalai Lama on show, such as his bedside clock. The mural above the seat is of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa order of which the Dalai Lama is the head. The locked door leads into the Dalai Lama’s bedroom.