Partly cloudy, started at about 12 degrees but was 20 or so by the time the sun hit us full on.
Today we went to the Potala Palace, former location of the Tibetan government, and former winter residence of the Dalai Lama. It is 13 stories from the 130m Red Hill, and has more than 1000 rooms; more than 1000 steps to get to the top. The building started in the 7th century and was dramatically expanded in the 17th century.
It is an incredibly important Buddhist site. The local Tibetan people start walking around the Palace at about 430am and walk around the palace three times (about 30 min per lap) before breakfast. Many Tibetans come to worship and provide offering of butter (important for reincarnation) and money.
There are many ‘tomb stupa’s’ – where formal Dalai Lama’s are interred. For example the 5th Dalai lama tomb stupa is 3721 kg of gold, 10,000 gems. Overall 8 Dalai lama stupa’s and individual palaces within the palace are contained within the impressive building.
Many of the important rooms have books dating from the start of the palace that contain Tibetan history. Some of the books are black paper with gold ink and take 4 people to carry them.
We did Nepalese lunch and then went off to the Sera Monastery. It once held 5000 monks but now there are only approximately 500. We were there for the monk debate (not to be confused with the Munk Debates!). The debate is a series of questions from teacher to pupil. The question may be either right or wrong. The teacher is seated and the student standing. The student must determine if the question is right or wrong. If the answer is wrong the student does a step and slapping motion. Not all the questions are necessarily straightforward. This is about the mind. Expanding/training the mind of a future monk. An example could be – which came first the chicken or the egg……seriously……I didn’t find the answer….
Back to hotel and dinner in our usual place – met up with all the team – Ox, Dorje and the cook etc. Starting to feel quite real…..small ride tomorrow to be sure bikes are set and then day after tomorrow we are off!