Norbulingka Palace

Norbulingka, meaning 'Treasure Garden' in Tibetan, is the summer resort where the 7th through the 14th Dalai Lamas (1755~1959) handled official affairs and held festive celebrations. Located at the western suburb of Lhasa City, Norbulingka is 3 kilometers west of the Dalai Lama's winter palace--Potala Palace. Damaged during the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, the Norbulingka Palace had been greatly restored and renovated with a heavy investment in 2001. Now this former residence has been turned into a public park.

The 360 square kilometers park covers a couple of smallish palaces and chapels (compared with the Potala) and a large Chinese-style garden and the former Lamas' pet zoo. Of these, the highlight is New Summer Palace (also named Takten Migyur Potrang in Tibetan, means 'Eternal Palace') for the 14th Dalai Lama. Surrounded by plants and flowers, fountain, fish pond, the palace gives more luxury sense of the local leaders in its solid gold throne room, modernly-equipped restroom, and intricate thangkas, etc.

Traditional Tibetan Sho Dun Festival (also known as the "Yogurt Festival") in July or August makes this park more interesting and bustles it as a marketplace: the lounging local families, vendors as well as the Tibetan-preferred opera performances and the audience mass.

The park itself is less interesting and impressive than the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple. It is still a quiet ad fresh summer spot to walk around and escape from the lingering yak and incense in most Lhasa places.