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Norbulingka Park is generally known as the “Summer Palace of Lhasa”, where Dalai Lamas traditionally spent their summer days and handled political business. It is considered as a typical Tibetan garden, with exquisite constructions and elegant environment. Here, Norbulingka in Tibetan means “Jewel Garden”, thus it is absolutely noted for its beautiful sceneries and cultural relics. It has also been awarded the title of a national AAAA grade scenic spot.
Norbulingka Park is situated in the western suburbs of Lhasa at the bank of Kyichu River, 1 kilometer southwest of Potala Palace. With a total area of 360,000 square meters, it is viewed as the largest garden in Lhasa. The park houses 374 rooms of different sizes, and boasts a collection of palaces, pavilions, rare plants, various flowers, as well as lakes. In fact, the park is divided into three regions, like the region in front of palaces, the palace region, and the Golden Linka region in the west. Each region has its own sights and features. Therefore, you will enjoy not only the pious religious atmosphere, but also the beautiful scenery like the inland gardens. The exquisite murals in the palace are well worth a mention and visit. The murals in the northern hall show the kind, calm Sakyamuni and his eight contemplative disciples. However, the murals in the southern hall vividly tell the development of Tibet in comic strips.
As to its history, Norbulingka Park can be traced back to the 1740s. It is said that this area used to be wasteland with wild animals, weeds and scrub, but the Seventh Dalai Lama liked it and often visited it, thus, then the Qing commissioner in Tibet built the first palace here for him. In 1751, the Seventh Dalai Lama built himself a 3-storey palace, Kelsang Potrang, in the east, which mainly became the work place for the successive Lamas. After a series of expansions and renovations, it has become a large garden and palace today. It has now been turned into a park open to the public.
During the Sheton Festival (Yogurt Festival) which starts on July 1 of the Tibetan calendar, the park is crowded with people who come to sing, dance and picnic for celebration. When visiting the Norbulingka Park during this time, you’d better not miss this grand event.
At last, it is worth mentioning that the Norbulingka Park entered into the World Heritage List as a part of the historical assemblage of Potala Palace in December 2001.