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Norbulingka is Tibet's Summer Palace and it means "Jeweled Park" in the Tibetan language. It is the largest man-made garden in Tibet. The garden covers an area of 46 acres (19 hectares) and the palace has 374 rooms of different sizes. In the garden, visitors can worship Buddha, relax, and study the Tibetan-style palaces.
Inside Norbulingka, there are more than 100 plant species as well as many kinds of flowers from home and abroad. This royal garden's green environment provides the most oxygen in the city of Lhasa. Therefore, we recommend visiting this place on the first day to adapt to the high altitude.
Since the seventh Dalai Lama, Norbulingka became the place for his successors to deal with their affairs, hold celebrations, spend the hot summer, rest, and conduct religious activities.
In mid-March every year, the Dalai Lama would move there from the Potala Palace and stay until the end of October, when he would return to the Potala Palace. This is why Norbulingka is called the Summer Palace while the Potala Palace is known as the Winter Palace.
Thangka, also called "tangka", is a unique kind of Tibetan scroll painting with silk embroidery. It depicts all aspects of Tibet, including its religion, history, politics, culture, and social life.
Norbulingka is an important celebratory place for the Shoton Festival, a grand traditional festival in Tibet. After watching the ceremony of the "Sunning of the Buddha" at Drepung Monastery, people go to Norbulingka to continue their festival celebrations.
Various activities are held there, such as shooting, archery, singing, and dancing. People also gather on the open ground to have picnics and eat yogurt.
During the festival, besides Tibetan yogurt, another favorite of the Tibetan people is Tibetan Opera. Performances of Tibetan Opera go on from morning until dusk for about a week, and these are the best ones in the whole of Tibet.
If you want a Tibet tour including Norbulingka, see our most popular tour below, for inspiration.
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