Where Did the Dalai Lama Live?
The first Dalai Lama, head of an order of Buddhist Monks in Tibet, lived in the Tashilhunpo monastery, which he founded. He died in 1474, and was called Dge-‘dungrub-pa. Since then, there have been many Dalai Lamas. Most of them have had both political and religious power.
The Second to the Fifth Dalai Lamas were mainly based at Drepung Monastery outside Lhasa. In 1645, after the unification of Tibet, the Fifth moved to the ruins of a royal fortress or residence on top of Marpori (‘Red Mountain’) in Lhasa and decided to build a palace on the same site. This ruined palace, called Tritse Marpo, was originally built around 636 AD by the founder of the Tibetan Empire, Songsten Gampo for his Nepalese wife.
Amongst the ruins there was just a small temple left where Tsongkhapa had given a teaching when he arrived in Lhasa in the 1380s. The Fifth Dalai Lama began construction of the Potala Palace on this site in 1645, carefully incorporating what was left of his predecessor’s palace into its structure. From then on and until today, unless on tour or in exile the Dalai Lamas have always spent their winters at the Potala Palace and their summers at the Norbulingka palace and park from where Tibet was governed by him and his descendants. Both palaces are in Lhasa and approximately 3 km apart.
In 1959, the Dalai Lama had to flee to India, because he was thrown out of Tibet by the Chinese Communists. After the start of the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the 14th Dalai Lama sought refuge in India. The then Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was instrumental in granting safe refuge to the Dalai Lama and his fellow Tibetans.
The Dalai Lama has since lived in exile in Dharamsala, in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India, where the Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan government-in-exile) is also established. Tibetan refugees have constructed and opened many schools and Buddhist temples in Dharamsala.