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Popular Monastery

 

Sakya Monastery

This monastery is a "must see" for visitors to Tibet. The monastery lies 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Shigatse. Sakya, meaning "Grey Soil" in Tibetan since the soil surrounding it is gray; it is the central monastery of Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Its walls were painted in red, white and grey strips, which represent Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani respectively. Since the monastery has a colossal collection of highly valuable art pieces, it is deemed as the "Second Dunhuang". The Drum River divides it into the Northern Monastery and the Southern Monastery.

Established first, the Northern monastery was founded by Khon Konchog Gyalpo in 1073, from which Sakyapa rose and once ruled Tibet.

Tashilhunpo Monastery

Tashilhunpo Monastery, meaning "Heap of Glory", was commissioned in 1447 by Gedun Drub, the nephew of the founder of the Gelug sect, who was retroactively entitled the First Dalai Lama. As such, it is one of the six main monasteries of this Yellow-Hatted sect along with Drepung, Sera and Ganden in Lhasa and Kumbum and Labrang in Amdo.

Tashilhumpo is a vast monastery with its own streets, housing sectors, plazas, back alleys and complex of temples and halls. Tashilhumpo is located in the town of Sigatse and was founded by Gedun Drup, a disciple of Tsongkapa, the founder of the Gelungpa Sect in Tibetan Buddhism. Gedun Drup was later recognized as the first Dalai Lama. The monastery was built in 1447 and continuously expanded by the subsequent Panchen Lamas. The Ngagpa College (Tantric College), one of its four monastic colleges, was the residence of the Panchen lamas. One of the most attraction of Tashilhumpo monastery is the giant Maitreya (Future Buddha) erected by the 9th Panchen Lama in 1914 which took 4 years to complete. This twenty six meters tall statue is very big where lots of precious things like pearls, turquoises, corals and ambers were used with its 275 Kg. of solid gold.

Shalu Monastery

The Shalu Monastery is located 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Shigatse. The monastery was founded in 1040 by Chetsun Sherab Jungnay. The story of its founding involves Chetsun and his teacher. His teacher suggested that Chetsun shoot an arrow, and found a monastery where the arrow hit. The flying arrow hit a new bud. The monastery was named Shalu, meaning "new bud" in Tibetan.

The monastery is architecturally distinctive. In 1329, an earthquake destroyed the monastery. In 1333, Buton rebuilt it under the patronage of the Chinese Mongolian emperor. Since many Chinese Han artisans participated in rebuilding the monastery, the style combined the local Tibetan style with the Chinese style of the Yuan Dynasty. This is the only monastery in Tibet that combines these styles.

Shalu Lakhang is the central hall of the monastery. Other buildings of the monastery surround it. On the ground floor, the Tschomchen (also a hall) enshrines Sakyamuni and his disciples. Sakyamuni was one of the Buddhas. The chapels flanking the Tschomchen house Tanjur and Kanjur, two very important sutras of Tibetan Buddhism. Chapels in the roof floor are of typical Chinese blue tile design. The chapels enshrine Sakyamuni, Shalu Monastery's own Buton, and the Arhats. Arhats are those who have attained enlightenment, but whose rank and power is lower than that of a Buddha. Massive, delicately painted murals cover the walls of the monastery. Most of the murals depict stories from the life of the Buddha. The murals badly need restoration to preserve and protect them.

Drepung Monastery

Situated 5 kms' distance to the western suburb of Lhasa at the foot of Mt. Ganpoi Uze. Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choje, a disciple Tsongkapa, the founder of Gelugpa Sect. The Monastery , occupying an area of 250,000 sq. m. with a fixed number of 7,700 monks, is the largest monastery in Tibet. The monastery keeps plentiful historical relics. Buddhist scriptures, arts and crafts.

Sera Monastery

Situated at 3 kms' distance to the northern suburb of lhasa. Sera Monastery was founded in 1419 by Jamchen Choje, a disciple of Tsongkapa, the founder of Gelugpa Sect. The monastery is erected grandly at a mountain slope with a colorful architecture. Sera Monastery together with Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery in Lhasa are known as the Three Great Monasteries of Tibet.

Samye Monastery

It is the first monastery ever built in Tibet. It was founded by the Tibetan King Trisiong Detsen and belongs to the Nyingmapa and Sakyapa sects. The construction consists of three styles, namely, the Han, the Tibetan and the Indian. It is said that the monastery was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt three hundred years as the residence of the 6th Dalai Lama.. Finally it was completed by Rating Rimpoche.

 
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Site last updated on : July 26th, 2007