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22:25 Sep 29 2011

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Dominic's Diary 5-- Visiting the Potala Palace (3)
15:51, July 19, 2010  

The white walls of Tibet's Potala Palace contrast with the blue sky over Lhasa. Photo taken July 3, 2010. [Photo: / Dominic Swire]

Entering the next part of the building you are confronted with a volley of huge golden shrines, one after the other, commemorating the previous Dali Lamas. Many of these are in the form of stupas, a kind of turnip-shaped monument widely used by the Tibetans to pay homage to those deceased. Through the haze of incense, which is often so thick one feels like choking, it's impossible to fully appreciate the ornamentation on display. Colourful lanterns, rugs, murals and golden statues all combine to overwhelm the senses.

Amongst the tourist hoards are a number of pilgrims and monks. Turn a corner and you're likely to hear the deep chanting of a figure draped in robes sitting cross-legged on a bench. There are also many native Tibetans wearing beautiful traditional clothes and praying in front of the many shrines around the building ?C there's said to be over 10,000 in total. Many offer money, too, and it's not uncommon to see bowls overflowing with small notes, some of which are stuffed into the smallest of cracks in the walls of the building.

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