* The holy shrine of Tibet is Lhasa, and the holy shrine of Lhasa is Drak Yerp
At the altitude of 4885 meters, Drak Yerpa Monastery is located about 40km northeast to the city center of Lhasa. It is described as the "life tree" or spiritual axis of Lhasa. The site had a powerful spiritual heritage, having been visited by Songsten Gampo, Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsoygel, Padampa Sanggye, and Asisha. It was the home of several hundred hermits, monks, and nuns.There are two popular Tibetan verses in relation to Drak Yerpa. One verse says that "While Tibet's holy place is in Lhasa, Lhasa's holy place in Drak Yerpa". Another verse goes like that "Visiting Lhasa without going to Drak Yerpa is just like making a new clothe without adding the collar". These two verses pinpoint the importance of Drak Yerpa in the hearts of the common Tibetan pilgrims.
There are now still 80 meditation caves left on the hillside. Some houses were built to accommodate the caves, hence cave temples. So actually Drak Yerpa is a cave monastery. Many buddhist statues in the house or the temple were caved from natural rocks.Tucci in 1949 describes it:"Yerpa appeared suddenly before my eyes as a bend of the road, a cascade of small white buildings along steep overgrown cliffs. One could have thought one was not in Tibet. Giant junipers and tufts of rhododendron topped a thick tangle of undergrowth, brushwood and grass victoriously fighting the hard barrenness of rocks. The cliffs were riddled with burrows and caves, some of which were so high up on the fact of the abrupt hill that it would have been risky to climb them."
For those with a particular interest in Tibetan Buddhism, Drak Yerpa hermitage is one of the holiest cave retreats in Ü region. Many ascetics have sojourned here and contributed to the area's great sanctity. The site is deeply peaceful and has stunning views.