Located on a tributary of the Brahmaputra River, and for centuries isolated by the Himalayas from outsiders, Lhasa ("God's place") has been Tibet's most important site of religious pilgrimages. In its center is the Jokhang, a shrine of the Buddha erected in the early 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo for his Indian wife Princess Bhrikuti.
Lhasa's most famous shrine is the Potala palace, built in the 17th century by Ngawang Lozang Gyatso, and after 1642 the home of the Dalai Lama. This thousand-room structure, featured in the recent movie Seven Years in Tibet, occupies the site of an ancient fort on a ridge overlooking the northern part of the city. Since 1959, when the 14th Dalai Lama fled to northern India, the Potala has been converted into a museum. Other Buddhist sites in Lhasa are the Norbulingka, summer palace of the Dalai Lama, and several monasteries, Sera, Dreprung, and Nechung, which lie just outside the city.
[Fig.1: Map of Lhasa showing Buddhist monasteries.]
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