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An Introduction to NorbuLingka

Perched in the western suburb of Lhasa City, Norbulingka was constructed in the 1740s covering an area of 360,000 square meters. As the biggest man-made garden in Tibet Autonomous Region, it has become a part of a World Cultural Heritage Site. Several palace complexes compose the famous garden, including the most attractive Kelsang Potrang, Tsokyil Potrang, Golden Linka and Takten Migyur Potrang. They all exude the ethnical, religious features of the Tibetan people and represent the perfect Chinese architecture style. Besides it is also renowned for its summer festival especially the Sho Dun Festival, when people may dance and sing to celebrate. It is also named the Summer Palace.

NorbuLingka is named the Summer Palace, located west of Lhasa. The beautiful garden was first built in the middle 18th century. That's where they deal with affairs and hold religious activities. The garden covers an area of 46 acres, with 370 rooms of different sizes. In the garden people worship Buddha, spend their holiday, and study the Tibetan-style palaces.

NorbuLingka covers an area of 360,000 square meters, made up of the Galsang Phodrang Palace, the Gyianse Phodrang Palace, and the Daain Myingquelin Phodrang Palace. Each palace is divided into three sections: palace, the front section and the garden. In the garden there are altogether 370 rooms dotted with pavilions, waterside pavilions, hills and lawns. In summer, various flowers, grasses and trees were planted around. Now it has become an open garden in Tibet.

The Galsang Phodrang Palace was a winter palace built by the Qing Dynasty High Commissioner for the 7th Dalai Lama. Phodrang means "palace". The 7th Dalai Lama named it after himself. Since the palace was built, it has become the place where Dalais under 18 years old learn Tibetan language and sutras from the masters and where they are initiated into monkhood. After they come into power, they will still recite sutras, study history, read scriptures and appoint officials and discuss government affairs.

The Gyianse Phodrang Palace and Gyianse Lingkas were built during the time of the 13th Dalai Lama. In the Gyianse Phodrang Palace there are hall of worship, kanpu house and storehouse etc. Also in the palace there are many splendid murals with a full view of Mount Wanshou and Mount Wutai and some bearing strong Han characteristics in symbol of "blessing, wealth, longevity and happiness" Daain Myingquelin Phodrang Palace (Eternally Unchanging Palace), also called New Summer Palace, was the second palace added here in 1956 for the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. It was completed in 1956 with an area of 1080 square meters. It has not only features of religion and monastery but also those of splendid palace and sumptuous villa.

Setting feet on the steps of the New Palace, you can see a pair of tiger whips hung on the two sides of the gate, which is a symbol of power. It also shows that nobody is allowed in without permission. This pair of whips is one meter long. It's said that the whip was first used by the palace vanguards. Later, every time Dalai went on an inspection tour, a special guard would hold the whip in front to drive away the walkers. Inside the red-painted gate, you will see huge pictures of lion and tiger on both sides, which shows the dignity of the government head's house.

In the middle of the New Palace is the Dalai's throne decorated with gold and gemstones. The murals in the New Palace are especially attractive. The topics include Tibetan history, the biographies of Tubo Kingdoms and Dalai Lamas and the whole story that Songtsen Gampo sent his minister Dongzan to Tang Dynasty to seek a marriage alliance. Another story described vividly in the murals is that Songtsen Chitsong served a banquet to claim his uncle, which settled the problem who was the heir's mother. The vivid description tells people how the little King claimed the envoy from Tang Dynasty as his uncle without hesitation. One more story is, in 1652, the Fifth Dalai went to Beijing to have an audience with the Shunzhi Emperor and was conferred as Dalai Lama and granted golden volumes and golden seals.

The latest murals described the fourteenth Dalai's attending the National People's Congress in Beijing via the then-opened Kang-Zang Highway in 1954, and his visits all over the country; all the gifts presented by the Central Government are displayed here. The constructions, murals and decorations in NorbuLingka are the quintessence of the Tibetan temples and palaces.  

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