Norbulingka Palace, located in the west side of Lhasa is just around a 1 kilometer southwest of Potala Palace. Norbulingka is a “Treasure Park” covering an area of around 360000 square meters and is considered to be the biggest man made garden in Tibet. You will be amazed to know that there are more than 370 rooms of different sizes. It is called summer palace because after the 7th Lama, Dalai Lamas used to visit here during summers to hold religious and government related activities.
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 the Potala.
It 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.
As a part of “Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace”, UNESCO added Norbulingka in its list of world heritage sites. Norbulingka Garden is dotted with many palaces built by different Dalai Lamas who came after the 7th Dalai Lama and spend time here in the summers. Each Palace here is divided into three sections. The first palace that came up in Norbulingka was Kelsang Potrang, which is a perfect example of yellow hat architecture. Built by the 7th Dalai Lama, this is 3 floor building which has bedrooms, reading rooms, worship halls and a sanctuary as well. The next one built by the 8th Dalai Lama named Tyoksil Potrang is the palace that will mesmerize you the most as it is known for its architectural splendor. The garden, over the years has become a great picnic spot for the locales and an absolute gem for theaters performances and also for holding dance and music festival, especially the Sho Dun Festival. Come and join the scores of people who come here days before and set up a camp to enjoy the peak of summers, which is an absolute pleasure. Coming to Norbulingka is nothing less than a perfect excursion in nature. So just come and leave yourself in this beautiful and serene environment, brimming with the fragrance of fresh flowers, dotted with magnificent historical palaces.
The New Summer Palace, built by the 14th Dalai Lama, is located in the center of the Norbulingka. 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 furniture.
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.
Ticket fare: CNY 60
Opening hours: 9:00-18:00