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, 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
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.
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.
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.
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.