The next day, my good brother and I made an appointment to visit the Potala Palace. At the meeting, he also brought a new friend, and everyone was overjoyed, immediately forming a "Bu Gong San Ren Xing".

In order to have a better understanding of the Potala Palace, I have roughly studied the history of Xizang. At the beginning of the seventh century, Songtsen Gampo unified Xizang and established a strong Tibetan regime. And the capital of Lhasa is entirely due to its advantageous geographical location. "La" means "god" in Tibetan, and "Sa" means "earth". Therefore, Lhasa means "sacred land" in Tibetan.

In 641 AD, in order to consolidate his political power, Songtsen Gampo married Princess Chizun and Princess Wencheng to the Takuri Dynasty of Nepal and the Tang Dynasty of the Central Plains, and built a palace on Mount Maburi. Due to Songtsen Gampo's reverence of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (the Buddha in the world) as his true Buddha, he named the palace "Potala Palace" after the Bodhisattva's residence in the Buddhist scriptures.

At that time, there were thousands of houses in the Potala Palace, but some of the buildings were severely damaged by lightning and fire during the reign of Akamatsu Dezan. Later, during the fall of the Tubo Dynasty, the palace was almost completely destroyed, and only two Buddhist temples survived. Since then, as the political center of Xizang has moved to Sakya, the Potala Palace has also been in a dilapidated state for a long time.

In 1642 AD, the fifth Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso, established the Gadanpo Zhang regime, and Lhasa once again became the political center of the Qinghai Tibet Plateau. In 1645, he began rebuilding the Potala Palace, which was completed three years later and became the White House. In 1653 AD, the Fifth Dalai Lama moved into the palace. Since then, all generations of Dalai Lamas have lived here, and major religious and political ceremonies have also been held here. Thus, the Potala Palace has become the ruling center of the integration of politics and religion in Xizang. After the passing of the Fifth Dalai Lama, in order to install the spiritual pagoda, the palace chief Diba Sangjiejatso continued to expand the palace, forming the Red Palace. In 1959, the 14th Dalai Danzeng Gyatso left Xizang. Afterwards, the Potala Palace was no longer used as a venue for political activities and only retained its religious function.

After its completion, the Potala Palace underwent multiple expansions, achieving its current scale. The entire Potala Palace has nearly 10000 houses, all of which are wooden and stone structures, with a building area of approximately 130000 square meters. The outer walls of the palace are built with large granite blocks, with a thickness of 2 to 5 meters. Some of the interlayer walls are also filled with iron juice, making them more sturdy.

The main building of the Potala Palace consists of three parts. The Red Palace is located in the center, with the White House to the east and Zha Xia to the west. The three are interconnected and seamlessly integrated. The palace is composed of many rectangular houses pieced together on a flat surface, and its structure is quite complex. Vertically, various houses are staggered in height, with distinct differences in front and back, and clear priorities.

The exterior of the building is painted in red, white, and yellow, symbolizing majesty, tranquility, and completeness. The colors and styles all have distinct Tibetan Buddhist characteristics. The white part is coated with white lime powder, mixed with a large amount of milk and sprinkled on the wall. The red part of the building material is made of white horse grass, which can reduce the load on the wall and also absorb the bow and arrow of external enemies.

Before climbing the Potala Palace, one will pass by an indescribable stone tablet, which was erected by the Fifth Dalai Lama to commemorate the completion of the Red Palace. Passing through the wordless monument is the entrance to the mountain passage. Next to the entrance is a large square stone with the character "swastika" carved on it. The tour guide informed us that this is a stone for mounting horses. Today's roads are covered by stone steps, while in ancient times, they were all earth roads, where the rulers of Xizang rode up the mountain.

The road up the mountain is in a zigzag shape, and during the climbing process, there is an elliptical stone hole protruding from the wall every other section of the road. When we were exhausted, we sat down on it to rest, and no one knew at that time that it was for tying horses.

At the end of the zigzag road is the main entrance to the Potala Palace, known as "Pingcuoduolang". The entrance is covered by a huge hidden decorative door curtain, which is handcrafted with yak hair to prevent wind and rain, making it an excellent choice.

Entering "Pingcuo Duolang" and entering the hall, there are huge portraits of the four Heavenly Kings painted on the walls on both sides, glaring angrily at the small people, as if reminding them to have a heart of awe before meeting the Buddha.

Further ahead is a corridor, with a red painted gate at the entrance. The gate is already open, and a huge diamond knot is tied to the copper rings on both sides of the door panels. This knot is made up of colorful "Hada" nodules of blue, white, yellow, green, and red. Blue represents the blue sky, white represents white clouds, green represents the river water, red represents the space guardian deity, and yellow represents the earth. This type of object contains infinite blessings in the hearts of Tibetan Buddhists, and every Tibetan passing by the Diamond Knot will pick it up and pray face to face.

At the end of the corridor is the White House Square. After a brief rest, you can enter the Potala Palace from Deyang Building to visit. When entering the palace, one must respect the taboos of Tibetan Buddhism, especially avoid wearing skirts. Tourists wearing skirts will be required to change into pants before entering. After entering the palace, you must take off your hat and do not step on the threshold for entering and exiting the hall. Photography is prohibited in most parts of the palace, only allowed outside the palace.

To the north of Deyang Building, there is a must visit point known as the "deepest toilet in the world". This is a squatting toilet built at the top of a cave, with the cave leading directly to the foot of the mountain. Its depth is not less than 50-60 meters. If you want to experience the "three thousand feet of flying water", this is the only way!

The light inside Deyang Building is dim, and as you walk deeper, it gradually brightens up. I saw butter lamps scattered throughout the main hall, serving as tokens of communication between humans and ghosts and gods, and they never go out all year round.

The pedestrian flow in the main hall is slow, and almost all are Tibetans, with scattered tourists mixed in and drifting with the flow. We follow the flow of people, all observing flowers on horseback. The countless murals, Buddha statues, scriptures, and artifacts on both sides of the corridor can be called an art gallery, but we cannot understand anything

Every time a Buddha statue is passed by, Tibetans stop to face it, fold their hands together, bow their heads to signal, and in slightly spacious areas, they will even kowtow their heads. At the end of the ceremony, they will offer the prepared butter, golden lacquer, hada, or money to the Buddha as a gesture of respect.

At this point, I finally understood that the "money exchange business" at the entrance of the Potala Palace was to exchange large denomination money for 1.25 cents in change, in order to facilitate believers to contribute their hearts in front of the Buddha. So I observed that among the money changers, tourists are a minority, mostly Tibetans.

The main hall of the White House is the Quiet Perfection Hall (Cuoqing Xiasi Xipingcuo), with the throne of the Dalai Lama on the north side and a plaque reading "Zhenxi Suijiang" from the imperial edict of Emperor Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty hanging above.

The highest point of the White House is the Sun Palace, which is the palace where the Dalai Lama resides and lives. Entering the Sunlight Hall, each of us exchanged one yuan for a Hada and presented it to the Buddha inside the hall, following the Tibetan rituals.

Next, enter the Red Palace through the Qiangba Buddha Hall (Qiangkang), which is the location of the Dalai Lama's spiritual pagoda hall and various Buddhist temples. There are a total of eight spiritual pagodas in the hall, among which the fifth Dalai Lama is the first and also the largest. According to records, as much as 119000 taels of gold were used to embed this spiritual pagoda alone, and the processed body of the Dalai Lama was preserved inside the pagoda.

The West Hall is the main hall of the Lingta Hall of the Fifth Dalai Lama, and it is also the largest palace in the Red Palace. The hall not only houses the plaque "Lotus Grounds" bestowed by Emperor Qianlong, but also preserves a pair of large embroidered curtains and curtains bestowed by Emperor Kangxi, which are rare treasures in the Potala Palace.

From the west hall, passing through the gallery, one can reach Qujie Zhupu (also known as Songtsen Gampo Xiufa Cave). This 7th century building is one of the oldest buildings in the Potala Palace, containing statues of Songtsen Gampo, Princess Wencheng, and their ministers.

The highest palace in the Red Palace is named Sasong Langjie (meaning Shengsanjie), which houses a portrait of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty and a "Long Live" plaque.

Continuing along the route, we walked out of the Red Palace. Outside the Red Palace, there is the back door of the Potala Palace, which means that the tour of the Potala Palace has come to an end.

Standing outside the door and resting on the wall, I had my first bird's-eye view of Lhasa. Looking down at the dense "black dots" below, there were people entering and exiting the Potala Palace.

I suddenly realized that during these nearly two hours of sightseeing, what truly touched me was not the Buddhist scriptures and murals, nor the golden pagoda and Tancheng, but the Tibetan people who crossed mountains and rivers to pilgrimage. Their piety, purity, and sincerity towards the Buddha constitute a awe inspiring beauty

I think this is also one of the meanings of the existence of the Potala Palace. It is not only a building, but also a symbol of spirit. In this complex and diverse world, perhaps what we need is the pure and steadfast faith of the Tibetan people.

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