The Winter (Potala Palace) and Summer (Norbulinka) Palaces of the Dali Lama, Lhasa, Tibet

Norbulinka (Summer Palace)

Norbulinka is known as the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lamas. We had previously watched the Tibet featured films Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet and were keen to see how well the films represented the living quarters of, in particular, the current fourteenth Dalai Lama.  Our guide told us that during summer and the yoghurt festival, the Norbulinka is full of picnicking Tibetans.

Our first stop was the most recent addition to the complex, the ‘New Summer Palace’ and also known as the Palace for the most recent fourteenth Dalai Lama. It was built in the mid 1950’s, just a few years prior to his exile to India.  Inside, we were able to view the audience chamber, the Dalai Lama’s private quarters (even his bathroom), and assembly hall.  The rooms were exactly as he had left them so many years ago, and it was a little surreal walking through the palace.

We then visited the palaces of the eighth and thirteenth Dalai Lama.  The eighth had some beautiful thangkas (Tibetan silk paintings) and the thirteenth had some interesting vehicles used by the lamas including bicycles, carriages and buggies.

Entrance to the Norbulinka (Summer Palace)Snow lions protecting the entrance to the NorbulinkaAbove the entrance gate a Dharma Chakra, wheel of life with pair of deer
Braided scarfs on the door handlesNew Summer Palace (Takten Migyur Podrang)Looking outside from the entrance of the New Summer Palace (Takten Migyur Podrang)
Walls of the Summer PalaceSnow lion head on the awning of the palaceEntrance to the Summer Palace of the 13th Dalai Lama (Chensek Podrang)
A white washed field of dandelionsOuter ChibrakangEntrance to the Palace of the 8th Dalai Lama (Kelsang Potrang)
Mythical creatures on the door to the Palace of the 8th Dalai Lama (Kelsang Potrang)The exterior wall of the New Summer Palace (Takten Migyur Podrang)The New Summer Palace (Takten Migyur Podrang)
The New Summer Palace (Takten Migyur Podrang)The New Summer Palace (Takten Migyur Podrang)The New Summer Palace (Takten Migyur Podrang)
One of the snow lions in the avenue leading to the New Summer PalaceAvenue of snow lions leading the New Summer Palace (Takten Migyur Podrang)Mythical creatures on found near the entrance of the Norbulinka complex


Potala Palace (Winter Palace)

After Nobulinka we headed to the Potala Palace, the once Winter Palace of the Dalai Lamas. The lines were long, with foreign tourists, Chinese and Tibetan pilgrims.  Due to its popularity, not only are a limited number of visitors allowed to enter the Palace per day (two thousand), there is a time restraint of forty-five minutes per area.  The walk up to the Red Palace was quite exhausting. At over three-thousand metres high, walking up all those steps was challenging! Inside the Red Palace we saw the Chapel of Jampa, King Songsten Gampo’s meditation chamber (the oldest room in the Potala) and a number of tombs for the previous Dalai Lamas (thirteenth, eighteenth and nineteenth). Many of the rooms were closed to the public. We also were able to walk on the roof of the White Palace and view the throne room (where the Dalai Lamas could receive guests), meditation room and bedroom of the Dalai Lama.

Lhasa's cardinal landmark, the Potala PalaceThe Potala Palace, Winter Palace of the Dalai LamasPotala (Budala Gong) Palace
Sonya and the guide Demdul climbing the stairs to the PotalaStairs leading to the Potala Palace entranceOne of the entrances to the Potala Palace
The colourful entrance door to the Potala PalaceProtector wall mural in the entrance of the Potala PalaceSonya in the Potala Palace
On the roof with the white palace in frontHundred of prayer wheels around the Potala Palace groundsTibetan spinning prayer wheels outside the Potala Palace
Stupa (Chorten) outside the Potala Palace groundsThree Stupa (Chorten) outside the Potala Palace groundsA view of the Potala Palace on its hill


Tibet Museum

We had some time in the afternoon to visit the Tibet Museum afterwards, which had some beautiful Thangkas, Tibetan Opera Masks, scriptures and musical instruments.

Entrance to the Tibet MuseumSeal of Dorje Change (1588AD)Ivory Seal of the Abhisecana State Tutor (14th to 15th century)
Golden Seal of the Protector of Country, the Benefit of PeopleBronze Buddha statue (14th century)Mask of God Palgong Dramsuk (20th century)
Mask of Han Monk (17th century)Coral Mask (20th century)Mask of a Protector Deity Mahakala (19th century)
Mask of the Lord Nyangral Gyalchen (20th century)Mask of Black Mahakala (20th century)Mask of Protector Deity (20th century)
Traditional Tibetan masksSakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsan (15th century)Padmasambhava and his two wives (14th to 15th century)
Carved Stone of Dharma King Norsang (18th century)Large  bronze BuddhaVajrapana Thagka

Barkhor walking tour

Later we did a walking tour of the Barkhor area which included some interesting sites including the Muslim Quarters and the Sangkhung Nunnery.


  1. Barkhor circuit
  2. Tromsikhang Market
  3. Gyüme Lower Tantric College
  4. Meru Sarpa Monastery
  5. Eizhi Exquisite Thangka Shop
  6. Karmashar Temple
  7. Dropenling crafts centre
  8. Ancient Art Restoration Centre
  9. Muslim quarter
  10. Islam Restaurant
  11. Ani Sangkhung Nunnery
  12. thangka workshop
  13. Lho Rigsum Lhakhang