Between the late 1700s and the 1950s, Norbulingka was used as an official summer home for the Dalai Lama. Today, it is recognized not only as a World Heritage site, but the premier garden and quintessential historical site of Tibet. In addition to a 374-room palace, the park is home to hundreds of rare plants, rose bushes, fruit trees and even a bit of wildlife. The expansive grounds offer travelers and locals a quiet escape from the hustle of the city, and on warm, sunny days, dozens of people can be found picnicking on the well-kept grounds.
In addition to Norbulingka’s unmistakable natural beauty, travelers will find some 30,000 cultural relics from ancient Tibet scattered around the grounds. Visitors should be sure to check out Kelsang Palace, the oldest building in Norbulingka, as well as the Lake Palace on the southwest portion of the grounds. Three islands connected by small bridges and a row of quaint horse stables make this a picturesque stop on a visit to the garden.
Norbulingka Palace is located on the west side of Lhasa, near the southwestern Potala Palace. It is the largest manmade garden in Tibet. During the summer and fall months, Norbulingka plays host to a number of dance and music festivals, as well as the annual Sho Dun, known to travelers as the Yoghurt Festival, held in August.