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"In reaching Lhasa I had fulfilled a life’s ambition. Ever since I was a young boy, when I had seen some pictures of Lhasa in my parents book on world travel, I had always had a longing to visit the place. Now here I was. As I took my first short walk in the evening I could see the famous Potala Palace high up on a rock in the distance. Lacking the energy to walk up to it, I was content to settle for a beer and omelette in one of the small cafes near the hotel, happy in the knowledge that I had made it. Back at the hotel, my German roommate, who had brought an electric razor with him, decided to shave off his 4 days of stubble. He got one half of his face shaved when the power went off. It did not come on again until the next evening.


Lhasa, Altitude 3,800m   Population about 150,000 - half Han Chinese

The part of the old town, close to the Yak Hotel was every bit as interesting as I had hoped it would be. And though there had been some new building most of it was iin the traditional style and in good taste. This could not be said of the Chinese developments in other parts of the city which I found quite ugly. 


The view above was painted from the back of People's Park. It was a couple of days before I had got acclimatised enough to the high altitude, to want to make the hard climb up to the top of the palace, and even then it took me a good half hour just to reach the main entrance. 


The first Potala Palace on this naturally elevated site was built in the 7th century, but was destroyed by fire 200 years later. The present building was started in 1645 by the 5th Dalai Lama and completed in 1693. It has been the official winter residence of successive Dalai Lamas. The Potala has 13 storeys rising 117m with over 1,000 rooms. The walls, which vary between two and five metres thick, were strengthened against earthquakes by pouring in molten copper. Since there was no knowledge of the wheel In Tibet in the 17th century, all stones and timber had to be brought in on donkeys or the backs of humans. A feat that must surely make this mediaeval skyscraper one of the wonders of the world. The part in the middle of the Potala is known as the Red Palace. It contains the living quarters of the Dalai Lama, assembly halls, 35 chapels and many shrines, all richly decorated with murals depicting different tantric Buddhism. Also to be seen, were the bejewelled stupas containing the remains of previous Dalai Lamas. Walking round the part of the building now open to the public, I often had to queue to get into the more interesting rooms, as they were so busy with local Tibetan pilgrims. Something I found added even more to the interest of the building." - MH 

The Potala Palace in Lhasa, 1988

  • All items are produced from original paintings by Martyn Hanks.

    Prints: Size is A4 (8.27" x 11.69"/210 x 297mm). Printed onto high quality 245gsm fine art watercolour paper to give the print an authentic look and feel. Supplied in a textured off white mount size 12" x 16" (305 x 406mm), backed and sealed in a clear cellophane wrap and delivered in a protective carton to ensure it reaches you in perfect condition.

    Cards: Size 7" X 5"/178 x 127mm. Packaged in a clear cellophane wrap with a top quality 150gsm self-seal white envelope.

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