The stone-and-wood-structured Potala Palace consists of the White Palace and Red Palace. The White Palace, comprising halls, temples and courtyards, serves as the living quarters of the Dalai Lama. The Red Palace includes various chambers for worshipping Buddha and chambers housing the eight stupa that contain the remains of fifth through thirteenth Dalai Lama. All the stupas are covered with gold foil. The most magnificent stupa belongs to the fifth Dalai Lama. It is 14.85 meters tall and inlaid with pearl and jade. The palace also collected a large number of sculptures, murals, scripture and other valuable cultural relics.
White Palace is the Winter Palace of Dalai Lama. It is used to be the administrative body of Tibetan Government. The Place has 7 layers. The White Palace is located under the Red Palace and connecting with Zhasha. Zhasha is located at the west part of Red Palace, and is the living room for lamas serving in the palace. It used to have 25000 lamas living in it. As the outside wall is also white, it usually considered as a part of the White Palace.
The top layer it the Dalai Lama’s bedroom “Sunshine Hall”. Some of the rooms in the hall are open to let sunshine shooting in, and covered with tarpaulin at night. Sunshine Hall can be divided in to east and west part. The west Sunshine Hall is the original one while the east sunshine was imitated the west one. They were respectively the bedroom of the 13th and 14th Dalai Lama and also the place for them to handle fairs. With rigid hierarchies, only top monks or officials were allowed to get into the hall. There are worship hall, scripture hall, bedrooms and other rooms in the hall which are all decorated very luxury.
The five and six layers are the rooms for living and work. The Dongyoujiyuanman Hall on the middle of the 4th floor, with an area of 717 square meters, is the largest hall in Potala Palace. It is the hall for holding the enthronement of Dalai Lama, leading ceremony and other religious and political activities. Outside the White Palace there is way in the “Z” shape. A broad square named Deyangsha,at east hillside is the place for Dalai Lama to watch drama or holding outdoor activities. At the south and north part of the square, there are monk officials’ school and other architectures.
Red Palace is at the center of the Potala Palace. The outside wall of it is red. It was designed in mandala layout. Around the Dalai's Stupas there are many scripture halls and Buddha halls, and connecting with the White Palace. On the roof deck of the Red Palace, there are full of the golden rooftop of each hall. The roofs are single eaves Xieshan type with gilding bronze tiles. On the top, there are 3 golden pagodas. The Gold treasure house and red color prayer flags embody the strong Tibetan Style. Shangjiexingsheng Hall is the highest hall in possession of lots of Buddhist sutras and portraits of Qing Dynasty emperors.
The main architectures of the Potala Palace are the 5 Dalai Lamas’ Stupa Halls respectively belongs to the fifth, seventh, eighth, ninth and thirteenth Dalai Lamas. Each Halls is in the same layout, but not the same size. The largest one is the Fifth Dalai Lama’s Stupa Hall, which is 3 layers high and support by 16 big square columns with the stupa of the Fifth Dalai Lama in the middle of it. Beside it, there are the Tenth Dalai Lama and the Twelfth Dalai’s stupas. The Lailingta Hall of the Fifth Dalai’s Xiangtangxi Hall is the largest hall of the Red Palace, which is 6 m high and covers 725.7 square meters. In the hall, there is a horizontal inscribed board with the words written by Qiang Long Emperor. There are 698 murals in the hall, which mostly are about the life of the Fifth Dalai. At the west part is the Stupa Hall of the Thirteenth Dalai; it is latest architecture in the Potala Palace built in 1936. The scale of this hall can be compared with the Fifth Dalai Lama’s Stupa Hall. Except for the stupa, there is a silver statue of the Thirteenth Dalai.
There are also many other constructions in Potala Palace which include: the school of Buddhist Logic, the Seminary, the printing house, gardens, courtyards and even the Jail. For more than 300 years, Potala Palace has treasured many culture relics such as murals, stupas, statues, tangkas, and rare sutras. Potala Palace is indeed a must see in Lhasa.