Lhasa Summer Palace is the popular name of Norbulingka, which in Tibetan means "Treasure Park". Among artificial gardens, Norbulingka is the biggest, the best scenic and the most historic one in Tibet. Nowadays, it is the public park for local people. Therefore, it is also called Norbulingka Park.
Norbulingka Park is actually the Dalai Lamas' Summer Palace. At the coming of every summer, Dalai Lamas handled official business in Norbulingka, not in Potala Palace. After over two hundred years of extension, Norbulingka has a large area of 360, 000 square meters including 374 rooms. The constructions, murals and decorations in Norbu Lingka are the quintessence of the Tibetan temples and palaces. It is of great cultural value and was listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2001 as an extension of the Potala Palace.
The important program is to watch Tibetan operas in Norbulingka to celebrate Shoton Festival. From the early morning to 5 p.m., different Tibetan operas are played, which last for one week. Among all Tibetan operas of the whole year in Tibet, the Tibetan opera in Norbulingka to celebrate Shoton Festival has the best performers and the most interesting stories.
History of Norbulingka
The history of Norbulingka Palace was about 100 years shorter than that of the Potala Palace. The initial history of Norbulingka is traced originally to a spring at this place, which was used by the 7th Dalai Lama to regain his health during summer. The ruling government at that time, Qing Dynasty permitted the Dalai Lama to build a palace at this place as his resting pavilion. Then, the Norbulingka Palace and Norbulingka Park were undertaken by the 7th Dalai Lama from 1755. The Norbulingka Park and Summer Palace were completed in 1783 during the reign of the 8th Dalai Lama and became the summer palace this Dalai Lama. From then on, it was in the exclusive use of the Dalai Lama to spend the hot summer. Subsequent Dalai Lamas stayed here for their studies before enthronement and as their summer resort. Therefore Norbulingka came to be known as the Dalai Lamas' Summer Palace.
The 8th Dalai Lama was responsible for many additions to the Norbulingka, a complex of palaces and gardens. However, most of the credit for the expansion of Norbulingka is given to the 13th and the 14th Dalai Lamas.
It was from the Norbulingka palace that the Dalai Lama escaped to India on 17 March 1959 under the strong belief that he would be captured by the Chinese. On that day, the Dalai Lama dressed like an ordinary Tibetan carrying a rifle across his shoulder and left the Norbulinga palace in Lhasa to seek asylum in India. At present, the 14th Dalai Lama's meditation room, bedroom, conference room and bathroom are part of the display to the tourists.