The Norbulingka Park, built in 1751 as the summer residence of the Dalai Lama, lies 3km west of the Potala Palace. As harsh winters gave way to spring, a grand procession of Lamas and officials accompanied the Dalai Lama from the Potala Palace to his summer home. Here, the Dalai Lama handled political affairs and practiced religious activities.
Norbu Lingka, which means "jeweled garden," is a fitting title for the large compound of buildings and extensive gardens. Now a large-scale palace complex and garden in Tibetan style covering an area of 40 hectares, the whole park has 370 rooms of different sizes and lawns shaded by green trees and enclosed by various flowers. Until 1959, commoners weren't allowed within its walls. Today this once forbidden palace is ideal for quiet strolls and lazy afternoons. On festivals and holidays, the local people in their colorful costumes come here with food and tents to sing and dance overnight.
The palace contains some fabulous murals fusing Tibetan history and myth. Some of the finest murals are found at the back of the woods in the Golden Lingka and Chensal Potrang.