Tibet, with its panorama of beautiful snow-covered peaks and magnificent valleys, has been a point of attraction for many over the years. But what engages the attention of the tourists and keeps it there are the monasteries that are spread across the country, sometimes tucked safely in corners, and sometimes standing tall and proud on the peaks.
The monastery tour or rather the cultural tour of Tibet organized by the travel agents is aimed at giving a wholesome experience of these monasteries for the tourists. Here are some of the most popular monasteries of Tibet, and what you can expect from them.
Located 3km miles from Lhasa in the North, the Sera monastery stands tall and beautiful, with a backdrop of the hill best known for its wild roses. The name ‘Sera’ translates to ‘wild roses’ in Tibet, and the name stuck because it is said that when the monastery was being built, the wild roses were in full bloom on the hill behind.
Sera monastery is one of the largest and oldest Buddhist colleges in Tibet and dates back to 1400s. It was built in the year 1419. Steeped well in history, the magnificent confines of this monastery holds precious relics, artifacts and many memories of millions of lives are lived and prayed here for centuries. This is one of the must-visit monasteries on the list of every visitors who come on a trip to Tibet.
Located about 6km from the city of Lhasa, the Drepung monastery presents a splendid view with a backdrop of Mount Gephel. The monastery is situated in its foothills. Drepung translates to ‘rice heap’ in Tibet. This monastery is considered to be the tallest one in the world and can house more than 7000 monks at a time.
Amongst one of the three great monasteries of Tibet, Drepung also was built in 1416. This was the residence of the great Dalai Lamas till the Potala Palace was built. Acclaimed as a great learning place or the ‘Nalanda’ of Tibet, this monastery gives the visitors what they seek – peace, mystery and a great deal of historical significance.
Another magnificent crown on the beauty of Tibet is the Ganden monastery. Many tourists go on a Ganden-Samye trek to just experience the panoramic view of the enchanting countryside. The monastery of Ganden was founded in the year 1409, and therefore is the oldest among the three.
It is located about 45 km from Lhasa and is snugly preserved in within the confines of valleys and mountain peaks. It is situated on the top of the Wangbur mountain and gives its tourist a splendid view of life and beauty, both beneath and beyond.
Samye monastery, located about 50km from the Tsedang County in Tibet. This monastery has the title of being the ‘oldest’ of monasteries built in the country. The structure is believed to be constructed in 775-779. The site is believed to have a lot of religious significance. People come from all over the world to visit and enjoy the view from this monastery.
Although the monastery itself presents an awe-inspiring reaction on many guests, which makes it even more interesting is its location. Samye, in Tibet, translates to ‘unexpected and full of surprise’, and it truly stands to its name. The ferry ride to the monastery to the splendid view from the Mount Hero Ri and everything else between can very well match up with the enthusiasm of the travelers.
Apart from these four, there are several other monasteries, temples, and hermitages, which are designed as places of worship. Even if you are not inclined to visit them as a part of the pilgrimage, their sheer courage in standing tall through the test of times and hardships makes the visit much more interesting.
So, if you are in Tibet this holiday season, visit these monasteries to experience in firsthand what it takes to brave the force of nature to remain serene and calm, all through the year!