Many travelers choose the Puotuocheng Temple as the alternate to the Polata Palace in Tibet, given the exact resemblance between the two. Even its name, an awkward four syllable word, is the sinicized version of its counterpart in Tibet.
This temple was first built in the thirty-second year of the Emperor Qianlong’s reign for the purpose of celebrating his 60th birthday and his mother's 80th birthday. It is the largest temple of the Eight Temples, and was nicknamed the "Little Potala Palace."
The most conspicuous characteristics of this temple display its Tibetan style. Within the temple, about sixty flat-roof-house-like white platforms and Sanskrit white platforms lie freely beyond the axes, and confront the mountainous terrain.
The main building’s large, red square-shaped platform at the top of the mountain is very attractive, as it contrasts well with the surrounding white attics. Emperors used this platform to hold great religious rituals and to meet high officials and tribal chiefs from important ethnic groups.
The temple has three basic parts: the front, the middle, and the back.
The front begins at the five-hole stone bridge in front of the temple, including the mountain gate, the stele pavilion, and five-tower gates. In the middle stand a colored, glaze archway and tower-courts of the white platform.
The large red platform at the back comprises the main body of the building group. The mountain gate and the stele pavilion were built in the Han style of palaces, as seen during the Qing Dynasty.
The pavilion holds inscriptions and carvings in characters used by the Man people, the Han people, the Mongolians, and the Tibetans, including saying such as, “A Record of Puotuocheng Temple,” “A Record of Tu’erhute Tribe Coming Over and Pledging Allegiance,” and “A Record of Showing Solicitude for Tu'erhute Tribe.” These inscriptions are of precious historical value.
On the flat-roof platform in the north of the pavilion, five Lama Towers were successively set up in different colors: black, white, yellow, green and red.
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I updated this article on December 18, 2012
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