POTALA PALACE

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The Potala is considered one of the great wonders of the world. It is held sacred by Tibetans as the former residence of successive Dalai Lamas, and is one of Tibet’s most holy pilgrimage sites. A palace was originally built in the 7 th century by King Songtsen Gampo, and was believed to have been nine stories high, but around the 9 th century it is believed to have been destroyed by a big fire. The present Potala Palace was constructed by the great fifth Dalai Lama in the 17 th century after he became ruler of Tibet. The Potala Palace is divided into two sections, the White Palace (completed in 1653) and Red palace (completed 1694). It has more than one thousand rooms and is thirteen stories high. The White Palace was secular in nature and mainly used for government administration, whilst the Red palace was mainly used for religious functions and still has numerous chapels, including those containing reliquary stupas of the successive Dalai Lamas which are richly decorated in gold, silver and semi-precious stones.

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