Pala Manor - The epitome of Tibet’s past
Pala Manor is a well-preserved serf manor, located in Gyangze County of Shigatse as the epitome of Tibet’s past. Belonged to the noble Pala Family, Pala Manor once had a large scale of 37 affiliated small manors and over 100 serfs. Today as a well maintained 3-story house, it keeps the traditional Tibetan architecture of noble layout and gives an excellent insight into the wealthy landowning people. With beautiful decorations, exorbitant furniture and exquisite living supplies, it’s easy to see the extravagantly luxury. On the other side, the serfs had a terribly impoverished life under the extremely unjust treatment by living in the dark narrow space. By making such a vast contrast, Pala Manor is more than just an attraction to witness the old Tibetan society of privilege and slavery, which is a good place to know the Tibet history.
Pala Manor Facts
- Four Seasons
- Historical Architecture
- 4,029 meters
- Southwestern Gyangze Gounty of Shigatse
How to Get to Pala Manor
Located in the Banjorlhanbo village, Gyantse County of Shigatse, Pala Manor is 4 km away southwest of Gyantse, about 10 minutes’ driving. Or you can visit it en route to Gyantse from Lhasa with more attractions in one go.
● 3.6 km away from Palcho Monastery
● 3 km away from Dzong Castle
● 3.7 km away from Gyantse Ancient City
For independent travelers, with enough time, you can walk to Pala Manor or take motor tricycle to get there for about 30 minutes.
History of Pala Manor
With over 400 years’ history, Pala Family was one of the four nobles in Tibetan feudal serf society. The family had 12 pastures, 3,000 serfs and 14,900 head of cattle in the late 19th century. And Pala Manor as the main manor is best preserved and opened to the public as the evidence and datum for research into the politics, economy and culture of Tibet.
Pala Manor was originally built in Jiangga village and rebuilt in the Banjorlhanbo village in 1937 after the destruction of British invasion in 1904. As one of the 12 noble manors, under the further expansion, Pala Manor had over 100 serfs (slaves) to serve the lord and his family. Caught from the village, the serfs of the Pala Family had heavy tasks, including general farm labor and animal husbandry as well as wine production. Besides, they all engaged in knitting, sewing and the catering chores and other necessary works. In return, they got little money and food to barely make a living. Sleeping in a little dark space with nothing supplied and some of them even would go outside to stay overnight without much space.
Today, by eliminating the slavery system, the Pala Manor serves like an educational museum to reveal the Tibet’s past. At the same time, the descendants of those serfs have able to build their own modern houses around the manor, which made it difficult to find the Pala Manor.
What to See at Pala Manor
As the well preserved architecture, Pala Manor is one of the best samples to appreciate the landlord house of traditional arrangement in old Tibet. When enter inside, you will feast your eyes with numerous imported goods and exquisite accessories everywhere. Even the humblest stuff here is a luxury that common people can’t affordable in nowadays. All of them reflect the noble life and the old Tibetan system.
The Pala Manor erected by modern buildings today still in good shape. With an area of over 5000 square meters, there are fifty-seven houses. The main building is a three-storey wooden structure with a courtyard in the center. Like a maze, the building is connected by wooden ladders with different layouts in each floor. The ground floor is a roughly dark area used for lower serfs squeezed up for nights. And the second floor was the working area as well as the punishment site while overseeing. Along the corridors of this building, there are kinds of tools displayed to torture serfs, including whips, manacles, fetters, blackjacks, cages, etc. Even the jails can be seen here. The third floor is the main attraction area once was the living area of the Pala Family. With beautifully decorated with exquisitely carved beams and painted rafters, this floor includes scripture halls, reception halls, recreation rooms, bed rooms, etc.
On the opposite, there is another lower crudely building, which was the place for serfs to live. With a name affixed to the top of each low arch, here is the house of senior serf and his/her family. Being utterly destitute, the interior is lack of light and only a simple stove to stay warm or nothing. Without enough space, some of the members would stay outside.
Treasures & Luxuries
By visiting the display area in the third floor, you can further find out how wealth the Pala Family was. The valuable treasures from glass cups, tins of biscuits, ox horn utensil to fill Qingke wine and fine porcelain bowls for containing ghee to the ivory made mahjong set and fur clothes can be easily seen around.
If you enter the sun room, you will be genuinely amazed by the huge tiger and deer skins hung on the walls. On the corner, the gold saddle and two gramophones manufactured in Great Britain added more casual atmosphere. For other recreation rooms, there are modern gymnasium with facilities for table tennis, badminton and other physical training equipment like ice-skates, to enrich the leisure time.
Walking in the bed room, you can see what the modern life they once lived. With the exhibits of many valuable foreign fashioned jewelries from sapphires, turquoise, rubies, agates, diamonds and various other precious stones, as well as the rock crystal glasses, wristwatches and a range of cosmetics. What’s more, this luxury lifestyle stretched to diet. From whiskey to the soy sauce and vinegar all came from aboard.
Useful Travel Tips
● Taking photos here is allowed, but you need to pay if shooting some items in the display area.
● With a ticket of 30 rmb, you can have a whole day to visit from 9:00 to 18:00. If you are in hurry, 2-hour visit is enough to sightsee around.
● If you are interested about the Tibet history, you may do some research and study before visit Pala Manor.
● Wondering about how the serfs’ life now, you can visit the modern buildings around Pala Manor which now are the residence of the former serfs and their offspring. With a happy life, they have their own fields, cattle, horses and sheep.
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