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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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On the slope of the wuze Hill in Genbei five kilometers northwest suburb of Lhasa, Drepung Monastery is known as Tibet's largest and the most important temple of Gelug Sect of Buddhism. It is considered one of the "Three Great Temples" of Tibet along with Sera Monastery and Ganden Monastery. The monastery has trained a large group of talents for Tibetan Buddhism. The Fifth Dalai Lama lived here before he moved to Potala Palace.

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.

It was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Chojey, a direct disciple of Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelukpa School. Drepung was known for the high standards of its academic study, and was called the Nalanda of Tibet, a reference to the great Buddhist monastic university of India. Chapman reported that in the late 1930's. The Drepung Monastery is also known as the most important monastery of Gelugpa in Tibetan Buddhism. And it also is the largest of the monastery of the Gelug Sect., and at its peak was the largest monastery of any religion in the world. Covering an area of 250,000 square meters, it held 7,700 monks in total, but in its heyday as many as 10,000 and possessed 141 fazendas and 540 pastures in its heyday, and is the largest-scale monastery among the ones of the same kind. Drepung was divided into four colleges, each housing monks from a different locality: one being favored by Khampas, another by Mongolians and so on. Each college was presided over by an abbot who had been appointed by the late 13th Dalai Lama. Seen from afar, its grand, white construction gives the monastery the appearance of a heap of rice. As such, it was given the name “Drepung Monastery'” which means Monastery of Collecting-Rice in the Tibetan language.

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. What's more, the Drepung houses many cultural relics, which adron 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.

The Drepung Temple houses plenty of historical and cultural relics and Buddhist classics, which adorn the temple and make it more superb. Statues of Manjushri Bodhisattva, and Sitatapatra found on the first storey of the Coqen Hall, rare sutras on the second storey and Jamyang Qoigyi's conch shell given by Tsong Khapa on the third one, all add to the wonderment of the temple. Exquisite statues of Tsong Khapa, Kwan-yin Bodhisattva, 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. Drepung was also listed as a national cultural relic in 1982.

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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