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Pelkor Monastery

* One monastery of 3 different sects ( Gelupa sect, Syaka Sect, Gedang Sect) living and developing together.

History: 1418 AD
Distance from Lhasa: 270Km / 5 Hours Drive 
Entrance fee: RMB 60 per person
Open Hours: 09:00-18:00
* Address:  Pelcho Monastery, Gyantse County, Shigatse, Tibet
*  The best visiting time: May-- October

Palcho Monastery & Kumbum Stupa
Palcho Monastery & Kumbum Stupa
Palcho Monastery & Kumbum Stupa
Palcho Monastery & Kumbum Stupa
Palcho Monastery & Kumbum Stupa
Palcho Monastery & Kumbum Stupa
Palcho Monastery & Kumbum Stupa
Palcho Monastery & Kumbum Stupa
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Pelkor Monastery lies at the foot of Dzong Hill, 270km south of Lhasa and 100km east of Shigatse. It’s the main monastery in Gyantse County, Shigatse Prefecture, Tibet, in the Nyangchu river valley. The monastery precinct is a complex of structures, which, apart from the Tsuklakhang Monastery, also includes its Kumbum, believed to be the largest such structure in Tibet that is most notable for its 108 chapels in its several floors and the old Dzong or fort.

Pelkor Choede enjoys a high status in Tibet Buddhism history as it houses three sects - Sakyapa, Kadampa and Gelugpa together. The Pelkor Choede, the Main Assembly Hall, murals and Zhacang (hall for the monks) in the monastery are the most renowned. Architecturally, Pelkor monastery is a fusion of Han, Tibetan and Nepali architecture. The most striking architecture in the complex, a symbol of Gyantse, is the Pelkor Choede, popularly called as the “Kumbum”.

It is a 32 meters (105 feet) high structure, a nine-tier building with 108 gates (108 interpreted as nine-tier structure representing space multiplied by the time element of 12 zodiac signs), and 76 chapels and shrines; out of the nine floors, the first five are square in shape while the rest are circular giving it a pyramidal appearance. It is also given the name “the Ten Thousand Buddha Pagodas”, as it has enshrined about ten thousand figures of Buddhas as images and murals. It has hundred chapels overlapping each other, which is called the “tower upon tower” structure. The chapels have the finest display of Tibetan art in "vibrant color and naturalistic style"; in the faces of the murals Chinese images are discerned. It is considered the largest of the three Kumbums in Tibet; the other two Kumbams are the Jonang Kumbum and Ching Riwoche.

Kumbum has nine floors or tiers and each tier has unique chapels. The 76 chapels has images that form "a progressive hierarchy of three dimensional manadalas, as outlined in the Sakyapa compilation known as the Drubtob Gyatsa, ensuring that the stupa encapsulates within it the entire spiritual path and gradation of the tantras". The first tier of the Kumbum has staircases, leading to the second tier, at the cardinal points, with the main entrance from the southern side. The second tier has 20 chapels which house images of Kriyatantras in a clockwise order. The third tier has 16 chapels, also depicts images of Kriyatantras and Caryatantras, arranged in a clockwise order. In the fourth tier, there are twenty chapels depicting images of Yogatantras in a clockwise order. The fifth tier has 12 chapels depicting lineage holders. In the sixth tier there are four chapels, which show Yogatantra deities. The seventh tier has a single chapel with 10 mandalas, a unique depiction of the "Father Class of Unsurpassed Yogatantras". The eighth tier has also a single chapel but depicts 11 mandalas of "Mother Class of Unsurpassed Yogatantras". The last and tenth tier has a single chapel, which has an idol of the Vajradhara Buddha but is "flanked by the masters of the Kalachakra.

Tsulaklakang is the main temple with a history of about five hundred years. It has an Assembly Hall called as 'Tshomchen' in Tibetan and well preserved. The structure has three floors and has well preserved murals and images of the fifteenth century. On the first floor are the Main Chapel, Eastern and Western Chapels, and the cloister. In the Main Chapel is the bronze statue of Sakyamuni with a height of nearly eight meters (26 feet). It is said that about 14,000 kilograms (30,865 pounds) of copper were used to build the statue. Built with 48 columns, the chapel is decorated with numerous silk “Thangkas”. On the second floor, Manjusri Bodhisattva, White Tara and Arhats are enshrined in the chapels. The eighteen-Arhat clay sculptures in the Arhat chapel are renowned in Tibet. On the third floor, Amitabha Buddha, Dakinis and esoteric Buddhism murals are displayed in the chapels.

The most popular festival celebrated in the monastery is held on 15 April. It is known as the Saka Dawa Festival to commemorate Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism; this day is said to mark his birthday and also the day of his death. During the festival, five hundred Lamas chant sutras and the loyal pilgrims gather in the monastery to commemorate Sakyamuni together. Horse racing and archery festivals are held in the middle of fourth lunar month

Travel Tips:
  • Entrance Fee: RMB 40 (USD 6) per person
  • Opening Hours: 09:00 -- 18:00
  • Recommended Visiting Time: Two hours

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