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Shalu Monastery

History:  1087
Distance from Lhasa: 30Km
Entrance fee: RMB 40 per person 
Open Hours: 9:00 - 17:30
* Address:  Shigatse
* Best visiting time: June to October

Shalu Monastery
Shalu Monastery
Shalu Monastery
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It is a small monastery 30 kilometers south of Shigatse in Tibet, the blue tiled roves can be seen far across the valley. Founded in 1040 by Chetsun Sherab Jungnay, for centuries it was renowned as a centre of scholarly learning and psychic training and its mural paintings were considered to be the most ancient and beautiful in Tibet. Shalu was the first of the major monasteries to be built by noble families of the Tsang Dynasty during Tibet's great revival of Buddhism, and was an important center of the Sakya tradition.

The monastery of Shalu was founded by Chetsun Sherab Jungnay in the region of Nyangro near the present day town of Shigatse. In the early fourteenth century it became the most important centre of learning under Butön Rinpoche (1290-1364), one of Tibet's greatest scholars. There he brought together the one hundred and eight volumes of the fundamental texts of Buddhism, the Kanjur, and the two hundred volumes of "treaties and commentaries", the Tenjur. At the same time he supervised the execution of 499 tantric mandalas, a few of which can be still seen in two chapels on the first floor. In 1305, Butön Rinpoche advised Prince Drakpa Gyaltsen to extend the monastery, following which Shalu was decorated by Tibetan and Nepalese artists who had been trained in the Mongol imperial workshops under the famous Newari master, Arniko (1245-1306). Due to Butön's activity, the monastery became one of the most important centres of study in Tibet, continuing on as an influential, non-sectarian monastry for centuries to come. The association has adopted the name of Shalu, as an exceptional repositary of Tibetan religious art, and in memory of this great Buddhist teacher.

The monastery's architecture is a typical combination of Tibetan and Chinese styles with archways, carved pillars, tiled roofs, and Song- and Yuan-style murals, differentiating it from other monasteries in Tibet.

Shalu Lakhang temple is in the centre of the monastery. On the ground floor, in the Tshomchen, Sakyamuni and his disciples are enshrined. The chapels flanking it house the Tanjur and the Kanjur books respectively. Chapels on the roof floor are typical Chinese blue tiled structures, housing Sakyamuni, Buton, and Arhats Buddhas. Massive delicate and old murals cover the walls of the monastery, mostly depicting stories from the life of the Buddha. Restoration and preservation are badly needed to protect those arts.

In addition to the various statues of Buddha, the monastery has four treasures of inestimable value, including a scripture printing board carved out of sandalwood, a copper jar for holy water, a stone basin which is said to have been used by Shaja Banzhida, and a stone board engraved with the nature-made six-character principle. Concerning the last treasure, an exquisite mini stupa is engraved on each of the four corners. It is said that this board was unearthed when the construction of the monastery first started.

Travel Tips:
  • Entrance Fee: RMB 30 (USD 5)
  • Opening Hours: 09:00 -- 17:00
  • Recommended Visiting Time: Two hours

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