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This is the Potala Palace located in Lhasa. It is perched upon a hill called Marpo Ri, which commands a view of the entire city. This hill was where the kings of Tibet lived beginning with Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century. The Fifth Dalai Lama moved his headquarters here from Drepung Monastery in the mid-seventeenth century, and since that time the Dalai Lamas of Tibet resided there (until the exile in 1959 of the present Dalai Lama). This became both the spiritual and political seat of authority.
The word maharaja, which means “great king,” is rooted in the ancient concept of “king above kings” (in Sanskrit, maharajadhiraj). Although rulers were sometimes addressed as “maharaja,” this lofty title was rarely adopted formally until the nineteenth century.