(TibetanReview.net, Oct08, 2017) – China said Oct 7 that it will soon spend more than 10 million yuan (about US$ 1.5 million) to undertake a large-scale renovation of the 1,300-year-old Potala Palace in Tibet’s capital Lhasa. The purpose is, of course, not to prepare it for the return of the Dalai Lama to his historical winter palace.
Rather, the aim is to make more attractive a UNESO-listed World Heritage Site which last year attracted 1.37 million tourists. China limits the number of tourists and pilgrims who could visit the palace each day, although it was not clear whether the renovation is aimed at enabling more number of visitors.
The renovation project was approved by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and will focus on repairing the palace’s gold-plated roof and improving its security surveillance system, China’s official Xinhua news agency Oct 7 cited Jorden from the palace’s administration body as saying.
The report further cited him as saying parts of the gold plating had been damaged by long-term exposure to wind, sun and rain and that the renovation would prolong its life.
The Potala Palace was originally built on the Red Hill in the 7th century by Tibet’s then powerful king Songten Gampo and was rebuilt and extended during and after the Fifth Dalai Lama’s rule in the 17th century.
The palace suffered some amount of damage when China bombarded it in 1959 while effectuating its final annexation of Tibet, unaware that the Dalai Lama was already on his way to India. China now presents the palace, the traditional winter residence of the successive Dalai Lamas and the secretariat of the Tibetan government headed by him since the 17th century, as a major tourist attraction.