Lhasa, a city of sunlight

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In the Tibetan language, Lhasa means "the Holy Land". This ancient city was settled more than 1,000 years ago. Its long cultural history and special geographical location helped the city contribute to the mysterious Tibetan culture.

1. The Potala Palace

On the Red Hill of central Lhasa, there is a splendid palace, the Potala Palace, which recalls the great power of the Tubo Dynasty. Legend has it that in the seventh century, celebrate Songtsen Gampo, the king of Tibet built a nine story palace with 1,000 rooms to celebrate his marriage to Chinese Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty (618BC - 907BC). But what we see now reflects continuous renovation and additions since the 17th century.

The palace is composed of two parts, the Red Palace as the center and the White Palace as two wings. The Red Palace is reserved for religious study and Buddhist prayers while the White Palace functions as the office building of Tibet local government.

An overall view of the Potala Palace. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

Visitors walk up the incline to visit the palace. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

A golden doorknob is adorned with a colorful string decoration that is unique in Tibet. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

A white wall at the Potala Palace. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

2. Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple is in the center of Lhasa and plays a supreme role in Tibetan Buddhism. The four story building is crowned with a golden top. The Jokhang Temple mixes the architecture styles of the Tang Dynasty (618BC - 907BC) with those of Nepal and India.

The legend of Jokhang Temple has several versions, and one is that the place where Jokhang Temple is located was originally a lake, which is said to have been the heart of a hag, according to Princess Wencheng, the wife of Songtsen Gampo. To avoid flooding, the lake was filled in at first and then Jokhang Temple was built.

Pious pilgrims pray outside Jokhang Temple. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

Visitors can see a statue of the 10th Panchen Lama. Panchen Lama is the highest ranking lama. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

Part of a prayer wheel. These are used to accumulate wisdom and merit and to purify negativity. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

A prayer turns a prayer wheel. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

3. Norbulingka (the Summer Palace)

Norbulingka, situated in the western suburb of Lhasa city, was where generations of Dalai Lamas took summer holidays and solved political and religious issues. It’s now the largest artificial garden open to the public, with rare plants and precious flowers. Norbulingka reflects Tibet’s unique architectural style and was listed in 2001 by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

The main gate of the Norbulingka. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

A colorful stone lion statue stands guard outside the main gate of the Summer Palace. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

An inner view of Norbulingka. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

A inner view of Norbulingka. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

Some locals sit in a doorway. [Photo / Xia Baohe]

An elegant gate is accented with traditional Tibetan decoration. [Photo / Xia Baohe]