Norbu Lingka means "a precious garden" in Tibetan. Located in the western
suburbs of Lhasa, it was once the site of the Dalai Lamas' summer palace, a
residence that allowed an escape from the summer heat, while the Potala Palace
was their winter residence. Norbu Lingka lies just one kilometer to the west of
1t was first built in the 1740s and covers an area of 36 hectares. It was
once a place of bathing and rest site for the 7th Dalai Lama, who favored the
peacefulness of the area and the banks shaded by many willow trees. He spent
much time studying Buddhist texts here. The Qing (1644-1911) minister stationed
in Tibet built the first palace here. It was during his lifetime that the
tradition of a "summer retreat" began. Since then, each successive Dalai Lama
moved to the park during the summer season, and carried out all religious and
political affairs from there.
The 8th, 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas built their own palaces here too.
Continuous expansions in the past 200-odd years have turned it a large scale and
Tibetan-style palace complex and garden.
The New Summer Palace, built by the 14th Dalai Lama, is located in the center
of the Norbu Lingka. This palace is filled with interesting murals and is
definitely the highlight of the Norbu Lingka. Among the green trees stands the
palace with carved beams, painted pillars, traditional upturned eaves, and
corbel brackets. The building is surrounded by trees, with ponds, terraces, and
towers nearby. This elegant palace contains many valuable objects, including
gold, silver, jade, antiques, Buddhist artifacts, murals, and luxurious
On festivals and holidays, local people in their splendid attire come with
food and tents to sing and dance overnight.
When the trees turn green, families come here to celebrate the Dzamling
Chisang Festival. Setting up tents and camps in the woods or by the river, they
sing and dance and drink Qingke barley wine and buttered tea until midnight.
Norbu Lingka was listed by the UNESCO in 2001 as a world cultural heritage