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Drepung Monastery

* The largest and most influential monastery of Gelupa sect (Yellow Hat) of Tibetan Buddhism. 

History: Built from 1416 AD
Distance from downtown: 8 Km / 0.5 Hours Drive 
Entrance fee: RMB 50 per person
Open Hours: 09:00-17:00
* Address: No.276, Beijing West Road, Lhasa   

*  TEL:  0891-6860011
*  The best visiting time: May-- October

Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
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Situated on the slope of the wuze Hill in Genbei, five kilometers northwest suburb of Lhasa, Drepung Monastery is known as the most important temple of Gelug Sect of Buddhism as well as the largest temple in the world. It is considered one of the "Three Great Temples" of Tibet along with Sera Monastery and Ganden Monastery. Covering an area of 250,000 square meters, it held 7,700 monks in total and possessed 141 fazendas and 540 pastures in its heyday. Seen from afar, its grand, white construction gives the temple the appearance of a heap of rice. As such, it was given the name "Drepung Temple" which, in the Tibetan language, means Temple of Collecting - Rice.

History of Drepung Monastery

Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Chojey who was famous as the disciple of Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelukpa School. Initially Drepung was a small monastery that covered an area of around 10 square meters and held 7 monks in total. By the first half of 17 century, the fifth Dalai Lama started to expand this monastery and constructed it a large temple. It was said that this monastery can accommodate up to 10,000 monks in its heyday. So far, it has developed into the world’s largest monastery with an area of 250,000 square meters.
Historically, Drepung Monastery is said to be the mother temple of famous monks and Buddhas. It was the residence of Dalai Lamas (the second, third and fourth Dalai have lived here). Lukhang Lobsang Gyatso (the fifth Dalai Lama) had also lived here before he was canonized as Dalai Lama by the emperor of China’s Qing Dynasty (After being canonized in 1653, the fifth Dalai Lama moved to the Potala Palace).

Drepung is now divided into what are known as the seven great colleges: Gomang (sGo-mang), Loseling (Blo-gsal gling), Deyang (bDe-dbyangs), Shagkor (Shag-skor), Gyelwa (rGyal-ba) or Tosamling (Thos-bsam gling), Dulwa (‘Dul-ba), and Ngagpa (sNgags-pa). It can be a somewhat useful analogy to think of Drepung as a university along the lines of Oxford or the Sorbonne in the Middle Ages, the various colleges having different emphases, teaching lineages, or traditional geographical affiliations.

Highlights of Drepung Monastery

  • It is the largest-scale monastery among the ones of the same kind.
  • Mother temple of Dalai Lamas. The successive Dalai Lama studied Buddhism here.
  • Buddhist education base.
  • Collect many cultural relics.

What to See inside Drepung Monastery

Ganden Potrang
The Ganden Potrang was built under the supervision of the second Dalai Lama Gendun Gyaco around the year of 1530. It was the residence of the second, third, fourth, and the fifth Dalai Lamas. Afterwards, it was served as the meeting place for the local regime for both politics and religion after the fifth Dalai Lama moved to the Potala Palace.
Many relics and Buddhist classic
The Drepung houses many cultural relics, which adorn the monastery and make it more superb. Statues of Manjushri Bodhisattva, and Sitatapatra found on the first story of the Coqen Hall, rare sutras on the second story and Jamyang Qoigy's conch shell given by Tsong Khapa on the third one, all add to the wonder of the monastery. Exquisite statues of Tsong Khapa, Kwan-yin Bodhisttva, Manjushri Bodhisattva, Amitayus, and Jamyang Qoigyi in other sutra halls, as well as flowery murals on walls also fully present the wisdom of the Tibetan people.
Shoton Festival at Drepung
This is the origin of the "Xuedun" or Shoton Festival at Drepung, which takes place in early August every year. Today, the Shoton Festival is a time for monks to go the mountains for contemplation, after which time their families will meet them on the mountainside. Many lay Buddhists make a pilgrimage to Drepung during this time and participate in the festivities, which include performances by the Tibetan Opera. The Shoton F estival begins with the dramatic unfurling of a giant thangka banner of the Buddha, amidst incense smoke, the sound of bugles, and scripture recitations. Devotees rush to make offerings before it is rolled up again in less than two hours. In the exciting Shoton Festival, "Sunning the Buddha" by the monastery has been one of the most magnificent religious activities in Tibet.

Travel Tips:

  • Entrance Fee: RMB 55 (USD 8) per person
  • Opening Hours: 09:00 -- 12:00, 15: 00 -- 17:00
  • Recommended Visiting Time: Two hours
  • Photo taking costs: RMB 20(USD 3) in each hall

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