Norbulingka, or "Jewelled Garden", was the site of the Dalai Lamas’ summer palace. From the mid 18th century, each successive Dalai Lama moved to the park during the summer season, and carried out all their religious and political affairs from there. The site of the Norbulingka was originally chosen for its banks were shaded by many willow trees, in the 1750’s the 7th Dalai Lama spent much time in the peacefulness of this area, studying Buddhist texts. It was during his lifetime that the tradition of a "Summer Retreat" began.
The park was considerably extended during the reign of the 13th Dalai Lama (1876-1933) and many more buildings were erected. In 1954, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, built the "New Palace", consisting of two major halls, richly decorated with murals. The murals depict many religious legends and historical stories, such as the marriage between the Chinese Princess Wen Cheng and the Tibetan King Songtsan Gampo in the 7th century. The 14th Dalai Lama’s living quarters are also found in the "New Palace", and many of his personal possessions, as well as gifts presented to him by the Central People’s Government in 1956, are on display in the reception room. In the past years the Norbulingka has been opened as a public park, and is frequently used as a place for picnicking, relaxing for an entertainment.