Nangtseshar is known primarily as the prison and courthouse of Lhasa city (the Shol area at the base of the Potala had its own court and jail). Prior to its use as a court and prison in the eighteenth century, it was the seat and residence of a nobleman known as the Tolung Nangtse Depa. The large building contains many fine architectural details. It is located in the northern Barkhor area, next to the walls of the Jokhang, although it does not have access points leading directly into the Jokhang. A dungeon was used to hold serious offenders, while an upper story held women and petty offenders. An outdoor staircase was the site of public executions. Scholar and artist Gendun Chopel was imprisoned in Nangtsehar in the 1940s.