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$34m project preserves historic palace

Palden Nyima, Phuntsok Tashi and Zhu Xingxin
Updated: Mar 27,2015 9:08 AM     China Daily

The Potala Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site that has stood in Lhasa for 1,300 years, has been given two renovations with central government investment. [Photo/Zhu Xingxin]

A Tibetan woman, carrying her 10-month-old son, is among the thousands of tourists visiting the site each day. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

Paintings, cultural relics, frescos, scriptures and buildings at a world heritage site have been safeguarded for future generations thanks to a long-term restoration program.

The central government and the authorities in the Tibet autonomous region have made great efforts to renovate and preserve the Potala Palace, the site’s managers said on March 26.

The palace is one of only three UNESCO World Heritage sites in the region-the others are the Jokhang Temple and the Norbulingka Park.

“The governments invested heavily in the renovation of the site,” said Ding Changzheng, the Party secretary at the Potala Palace Management Office.

“More than 204 million yuan ($34 million) was spent during the latest 10-year-long renovation project.”

A five-year program costing 53 million yuan was launched at the palace in 1989.

“Famous Tibetan thangka painting artists were invited to contribute to the renovation of the frescos,” said Ding.

Yulha Tsering, a firefighter stationed at the site, said: “The palace has been standing in the wind and rain for more than 1,300 years.

“The construction materials were mainly earth, stones and wood, so renovation is very necessary.”

Aside from the large-scale restoration projects by the two governments, the palace office has a renovation department that is responsible for daily preservation and maintenance work.

The number of tourists and pilgrims visiting the palace has increased greatly as a result of the restoration efforts, said Ding.

“The daily number of visitors is more than 6,000 in the summer season, compared with 2,000 to 3,000 in the past.”

The palace was built in the seventh century by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. It was extended by the fifth Dalai Lama, and was used as the residence of successive Dalai Lamas.