* The ancestral and main Gelupa Monastery in Tibet.
Ganden Monastery is suited on Wangbur Mountain, on the southern bank of Lhasa River in Dazi County, 70 kilometers from Lhasa City. It stands at an altitude of 4,300 meters above sea level. As is now known as being one of the “Three Great Temples”, along with the Sera Monastery and the Drepung Monastery.
Its full name is Ganden Namgyal Ling. Ganden means "joyful" and is the Tibetan name for “Tusita”, the heaven where the bodhisattva Maitreya is said to reside. Namgyal Ling means "victorious temple".
It was the original monastery of the Geluk order, founded by Je Tsongkhapa himself in 1409, and traditionally considered to be the seat of Geluk administrative and political power. The Ganden Tripa or 'throne-holder of Ganden' is the head of the Gelukpa School. Tsongkhapa's preserved body was entombed there in a silver and gold encrusted tomb by his disciples in 1419.
The temple is comprised of over 50 structures. The main halls in the temple are the Main Assembly Hall (or Coqen Hall), Zhacangs, Khangtsens, and Myicuns. Ganden Monastery consisted of two principal original colleges, Jangtse and Shartse, meaning North Peak and East Peak respectively. The three main sights in the Ganden Monastery are the Serdung, which contains the tomb of Tsongkhapa, the Tsokchen Assembly Hall and the Ngam Cho Khang the chapel where Tsongkhapa traditionally taught. The monastery houses artifacts which belonged to Tsongkhapa. It contained more than two dozen major chapels with large Buddha statues. The largest chapel was capable of seating 3,500 monks.
Besides the 95 Holy Stupas, this temple also houses rare and well preserved cultural relics, such as the armor of Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). This armor is studded with jewels and engraved in four kinds of characters. There are also exquisite tapestries from Jiangsu Province, the sutra written in gold known as the National Super-Class Cultural Relic, and a set of thangka painted with sixteen arhats and the four Heavenly Kings. All of these are amazing works of art.
Ganden Monastery is one of the earliest and largest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, and stands atop of the six famous temples of Gelugpa - a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. In the past, there were nearly 4,000 monks in Ganden Monastery. Its significance as a religious, artistic, political and cultural relic led to it being preserved by the National Key Cultural Relic Preservation scheme in 1961, and Ganden Monastery is the most special temple of the six Gelug Sect temples. Every year, one of the grandest of Buddhist activities - Buddha Painting Unfolding Festival - is conducted in the monastery, attracting thousands of visitors and disciples.