Potala palace closed after heavy snowfall

Snow-clad Potala Palace after season’s first snowfall.

DHARAMSALA, Dec 20: Potala, the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s traditional winter palace has been closed for visitors after heavy snowfall in the Tibetan Capital.

The Chinese authorities have announced the unscheduled closure of the Potala Palace on Dec 19, after 24-hour snow battered Lhasa, china.org.cn, a Chinese state-run media reported.

According to the report, a statement released by the palace’s administrative office on late Tuesday stated that the steep stone stairs leading to the Potala Palace have become slippery after the heavy snow which led to its closure for the visitors.

It is understood that the winter’s first snow in Lhasa came early this year which lasted for 24 hours. The city saw 10 cm of snow, the regional meteorological bureau said.

After the occupation of Tibet, the Potala palace located in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa was turned into a museum by the Chinese authorities and has since become the centre of attraction for tourists.

Earlier in Nov, in order to promote winter tourism, China has begun offering free entry to the Potala Palace for tourists from Nov 1 to Mar 15 next year.

A record number of 31.025 million Chinese and international tourists visited the palace last year, in the first nine months of this year, a significant increase compared to the 1.37 million visitors in 2017.

Built in the 7th century, the winter palace of the Dalai Lama has 13 stories and 1000 rooms. In 1994, UNESCO declared it a world heritage site.

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