Monasteries around Lhasa

2007/08 Asia Trip Itinerary | Home Page 1 of 2 |Page Down

Drepung Monastery (Rice Heap monastery)

The largest in Tibet where up to 10.000 monks once resided.  Now only a few hundred remain as their numbers are strictly limited.  Drepung  was closed down by Chinese authorities on March 14th 2008 when monk-led protests against Chinese rule turned violent.  It reopened 5 months later


Nestled into the Gambo Utse mountain only a few kilometres to the West of Lhasa. Derpung was the home of the Dalai Lama's until the 5th moved with his government to the newly built Potala Palace in Lhasa 

Lamps burn to clear the mind and  as an aid to meditation.    Traditionally they burn the so called yak butter.  As yaks are male it is extremely unlikely that this is technically speaking yak butter.  Pilgrims in their hundreds bring yak butter offerings to make merit but lamps are usually attended by monks ever mindful of the risk of fire which has destroyed many monastic buildings

For an extra fee one is allowed to take photographs inside many Tibetan monasteries.  Sometimes as in the kitchen we were blessed with adequate light.   More often the interiors are dark and it is not possible to do justice to the incredibly rich decorations


Textiles and Guardian Demons.  Fierce warriors protect the monasteries.  One at each of the four cardinal points

Virudhaka, the King of The South

Sera (Wild Rose Garden) Monastery
Now more famous for its debating than it's roses.  Everyday except Sunday the monks gather for debating practice

You hear the loudly debating monks long before you see them, the noise level is intense.  They all seem to enjoy the exchange of ideas but they should have hearing protection.  It is impossible to linger in the garden  

Their debating style is very dramatic, standing monks first have an idea which is expanded upon with much swinging of beads then the most important points are driven home with a swirling, dancing, lunging motion and  loud clapping of hands, usually right in the faces of a small group of seated monks


After all this argy-bargy and noise what everyone needs is a nice cup of tea

2007/08 Asia Trip Itinerary | Home Page 1 of 2 |Page Down