Begin our Lhasa tour today with a visit to the iconic Potala Palace which was home to the Dalai Lama before he left Tibet. The Palace is a true architectural masterpiece, magisterially overlooking the whole city of Lhasa from its 130m vantage point. It is comprised of two main buildings: the Red Palace, the religious center housing relics belonging to previous Dalai Lamas, and the White Palace, housing the private apartments of the 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas (the latter fled to India with the arrival of the Chinese army in 1959). The Potala Palace is a treasure and a treasure house, that it contains the golden handwritten Buddhist scriptures, valuable gifts from Chinese emperors, and a lot of priceless antiques. There are many colorful sculptures and paintings chronicling Buddhist folklore and ancient Tibetan life. The visit takes around 3 hours to explore the labyrinth of staircases, apartments, ceremonial rooms, and chapels.
Continue by taking part in a section of the Kora next to the Palace. Here it is possible to appreciate the dedication and endurance of the pilgrims who still consider the Potala Palace as a major sacred site… despite the absence of its principal resident.
While there are several sects of Tibetan Buddhism, the Yellow Hat Sect (Gelugpa) is the most famous. Three of its most important structures are found within the Lhasa region. Finish today’s tour at Sera Monastery, which is one of Tibet’s most important monasteries. Once home to over 5,000 monks, the monastery today holds around 600 monks who still devote every afternoon from 15:30 to 17:00 (except for Sundays) to their fascinating religious debates - true examples of verbal sparring.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.