Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Portala Palace’

As I stepped off the plane in Lhasa, Tibet, absolute joy came to me because I was still breathing at 12,000 feet. And I continued to breathe normally hour after hour, day after day, making the 4-day visit my dream come true.

Portala Palace, home of the former Dalai Lamas.

Portala Palace, home of the former Dalai Lamas, in Lhasa Tibet.

It was the surprise of a lifetime because my lungs caused me great concern about visiting one of the highest cities in the world. At around 12,000 feet high, it was my first time to experience a super high altitude. I even Googled precautions suggested to be taken in a high altitude.

Portala Place, another beautiful view.

Portala Place, another beautiful view.

After consulting my physician, I was assured the altitude would not cause any breathing problems for me in Lhasa. And he was correct. I didn’t even know I was high in altitude and experienced no difference in my breathing at 1200 feet or 12,000 feet.

Tibetan lady in her native attire passes 2 Tibetan monks in the park.

Tibetan lady in her native attire passes 2 Tibetan monks in the park.

To make sure there would be no breathing problems, I even consulted a Travel Clinic. There, the altitude sickness pill, Acetazolamide, was prescribed and recommended that I follow the directions exactly as written for the medicine. It worked perfectly for me.

The beautiful massive 999-room Portala Palace, former home of the Dalai Lamas.

The beautiful massive 999-room Portala Palace, former home of the Dalai Lamas.

The first afternoon after arrival in Lhasa, we rested as recommended by all advisors. But the next day, we went full time seeing Lhasa, truly a place of the Gods on that Himalayan plateau with many of the culturally significant Tibetan Buddhist sites.DSC_0012

Potala Palace, the home of Dalai Lamas, was the first place we visited and the most glorious of all with 999 rooms on top of a hill totally viewable from 360 degrees. It overlooked everything. Now a museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was a magnificent discovering adventure.DSC_0646

Tibetans were performing their daily clockwise sacred circumambulation, called Kora in Tibetan. Carrying their prayer beads, they walked around the palace while rotating a prayer wheel clockwise in their hand and praying to Buddha. DSC_0045

The faithful pray for good luck, protection, long life, good health, well being of others, wisdom, peace, and happiness, plus it is just good daily exercise. When we finished touring the Potala Palace, we joined the Tibetans in their circumambulation around it.DSC_0702

The most enlightening was the people and their faces and being allowed to experience a sliver of their lives on a particular day. And when the sun came out in the afternoon, we spent several hours in the large park full of beautiful landscapes, flowers, and people dressed in their native Tibetan clothing with apron. And I was still breathing just fine.DSC_0114DSC_0036DSC_0070DSC_0091

Our second UNESCO visit was the Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace, Norbulingka, with its very colorful décor and flowers everywhere.

UNESCO describes Norbulingka Palace, built in the 18th century, as a masterpiece of Tibetan art. And it truly is magnificent.

UNESCO describes Norbulingka Palace, built in the 18th century, as a masterpiece of Tibetan art. And it truly is magnificent.

DSC_0258DSC_0204 The palace was built by the 7th Dalai Lama in 1755 as the traditional summer palace and has the furnishings that the 14th Dalai Lama had until his exile in 1959 to India.

The grounds of Norbulingka Palace covers 89 acres (36 hectares) and is considered the largest manmade garden. It was covered with flowers when we visited and it was glorious.

The grounds of Norbulingka Palace covers 89 acres (36 hectares) and is considered the largest manmade garden. It was covered with flowers when we visited and it was glorious.

Serving as the administrative and religious centers, it is close to Portala Palace and has 1 of 3 parks adjoining it that remain of the 22 original parks in Lhasa. The highlight of this visit was the opportunity to dress like a Tibetan princess for a photo.DSC_0279

Our third UNESCO visit was to the most sacred and important Jokhang Temple, located in Bangkor Square in the old section of Lhasa that is the site of the most famous kora circumambulation ritual.DSC_0387 Here, pilgrims prostrate themselves daily continuously by lying stretched out face down on the ground.

Prostration is lying face down on the ground.

Prostration is lying face down on the ground. They have to keep their legs together so they tie them.

Prostration involves the full body above the knees touching the ground especially the hands. This Buddhist practice shows reverence for the Triple Gem (comprising the Buddha, his teachings and the spiritual community) and other objects of great reverence and respect. After the pilgrim is face down on the ground, he then gets up, walks 3 short steps forward and prostrates himself again all around the Jokhang Temple or any sacred site until 108 prostrations have been performed. And many pilgrims do this daily.DSC_0543DSC_0544DSC_0545DSC_0546DSC_0547

Buddhists believe prostration to be beneficial for practitioners because it is an experience of giving or veneration, an act to purify defilements especially conceit, a preparatory act before meditation, and an act that accumulates merit.DSC_0686

Each of the 108 prostration takes away defilement (greed, hate, delusion) and cleans a compartment in the mind. Sometimes a person has much anger, desire or a lazy mind and then must perform 300, 500 or 1000 prostrations. The person, then, is clean and is one with everything. Prostration purifies body, speech and mind.DSC_0850

Others circumambulate clockwise around Jokhang Temple and Bangor Square to shop in the colorful stores, formed as a bustling market for Tibetan and foreign goods. And I was still breathing just fine as I shopped.DSC_0894

DSC_0828Two huge prayer flag poles in front of Jokhang Temple were loaded with prayer flags. It is believed the energy of the prayers and sacred mantras on the flags flown in the wind will bring all good things to all who see them and their families, friends, and all people throughout the world. DSC_0387The red flags signify fire, blue for sky/space, green for water, yellow for earth and white for wind/air/clouds.DSC_0942DSC_0964

DSC_0105

The incense pots send smoke up to the Portala Palace and over the block long row of prayer wheels waiting for the faithful to rotate each one often.

Large incense pots smoked 24 hours a day non-stop as worshipers regularly prayed as they put offerings into the pots. The incense smoke is not considered smoke because it communicates with the Gods.DSC_0378

The wonderful visit to Lhasa ended at the Enlightened Blind Massage Center with a massage. Started by Kyila, a blind lady herself, who had a dream at age 12 to help blind people have an occupation, the center opened in 2014.

The blind lady who massaged my sore muscles at the Blind Massage Center.

The blind lady who massaged my sore muscles at the Blind Massage Center.

After studying massage in Beijing, the students then come to the center in Lhasa to gain work and experience and hopefully one day open their own massage center. Kyila also opened a kindergarten in 2011 for blind children and it is very successful.

This young lady, with her precious little baby on her back, sold items at the Jokhang Temple.

This young lady, with her precious little baby on her back, sold items at the Jokhang Temple.

Our wonderful enlightening adventure came to an end but the experience will remain with us always.DSC_0094DSC_0433DSC_0057DSC_0746DSC_0168 DSC_0166The beautiful and friendly Tibetan people, the sacred Jokhang Temple, the magnificent Portala Place, and the very colorful Norbulingka Palace were truly outstanding UNESCO treasurers. And I didn’t miss a breath of air the entire visit.

Photo Copy ©  2015 carolyntravels.com 

DSC_0426

The branches on top of the original Tibetan apartment buildings signify good luck.

DSC_0083DSC_0953DSC_0863DSC_0567DSC_0916DSC_0413DSC_0423DSC_0391DSC_0430

Read Full Post »