* The seat of the Panchen Lamas, also one of six largest Gelupa sect monasteries in Tibet.
Located at the foot of Tara Mount in Shigatse, the second-largest city in Tibet, Tashilumpu Monastery was founded in 1447 by Gendun Drup, the First Dalai Lama and was expanded by the fourth and successive Banchen Lamas.
The full name in Tibetan of the Tashilumpu Monastery means: "all fortune and happiness gathered here" or "heap of glory" and it’s the biggest monastery in Shigatse Prefecture. Tashilumpu is the seat of the Panchen Lama since the Fourth Panchen Lama took charge in the monastery, and there are now nearly 800 lamas.
Monastery is one of the six big monasteries in Tibet and is the traditional seat of successive Panchen Lama, the second highest ranking tulku lineage in the Gelukpa tradition. The "Tashi" or Panchen Lama had temporal power over three small districts, though not over the town of Shigatse itself, which was administered by a prefect appointed from Lhasa. The monastery covers an area of nearly 300,000 square meters including the main structures of the Maitreya Chapel, the Panchen Lama's Palace and the Kelsang Temple.
Standing on the entrance of Tashilumpu , visitors can see the grand buildings with golden roofs and white walls. The remarkable Thangka Wall which is nine floors high was built by the First Dalai Lama in 1468. The wall displays the images of Buddha on the 14th, 15th and 16th of May every year following the Tibetan Lunar Calendar. The images are so humongous that one can easily see it in Shigatse City. Visitors can find The Maitreya Chapel by strolling into the monastery on the west side of Tashilumpu . The Maitreya Temple known as (Jambu Chyenmu)) on the west side is the tallest building of the monastery. It was erected in 1914 by the Ninth Panchen Lama to house a gigantic statue of the Maitreya Buddha and is 26.2 meters in height. The statue sits on a splendid lotus throne in the 'European' posture with its hands in the symbolic teaching pose. A single finger of the giant figure is almost 4 feet in length. The statue contains 279 kg of gold and 150,000 kg of copper and brass moulded on a solid wooden frame by Tibetan and Nepalese craftsmen. Small versions of the Maitreya are positioned in all four corners of the chamber and the murals on either side of the door show a more active, antic style than any to be seen in Lhasa.
On the east side of the monastery is the old living quarters of the Panchen Lama, the Panchen Lama's Palace known as Gudong. Within, a narrow courtyard gives access to the temple containing the Fourth Panchen Lama's tomb. The temple vestibule has very large inscriptions at either end praising his holiness. Inside, the silver and gold stupa tomb rivals any in the Potala Palace in Lhasa for the splendour of its craftsmenship and jewels. Measuring 11 metres (36 ft) in height it contains 85 kg (187 lb) of gold and countless semi-precious stones. On the left is three statues representing Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light, whom the Panchen Lams are thought to embody. An upper level has a number of long chapels embroidered in silk thangka's that relate the lives and events surrounded the Panchen Lamas. Most were made in Hangzou as indeed many throughout Tibet were during the 1920s. The old living quarters of the Panchen Lama are no longer open to the public but the rooms are more modest and human that any of the rooms at the Potala.
The Kelsang Temple is one of the oldest and biggest buildings in Tashilumpu . It is a colossal compound. The Main Chanting Hall is a place for lamas to learn the sutras and listen to the Panchen Lama's sermon. On the back end of the hall lies a 5 meters (16 ft) high statue of Sakyamuni. It is said that a part of Sakyamuni's relics was placed in it. Two chapels sit on both sides of the Main Chanting Hall. The left one is devoted to Tara, the goddess who is believed to be the avatar of Avalokitesvara. A White Tara is in the middle and two Green Taras on each side. The right chapel is dedicated to Maitreya Buddha. With a height of 11 meters (36 ft), one can find the statue of Maitreya Buddha in the middle of the chapel. The statues of Avalokitesvara and Bodhisattva Manjusri created by the First Dalai Lama stands near the statue of Maitreya Buddha. The Great Courtyard of the Kelsang Temple is the place for lamas to practice and debate. The wall around the courtyard is covered by thousands of images of Sakyamuni in different postures and expressions.
The main chanting hall contains the throne of the Panchen Lama and two connected chapels. The left-one is devoted to an elaborately ensconced Sakyamuni with eight Bodhisattva robed in bocade. The right hand one is dedicated to Tara the goddess who sanctifies the mountain above and whose image is depicted throughout the temple. A White Tara goddess occupies the centre of the altar with a Jade Green Tara on either side.
Besides the grand palace and gigantic statues, the Tashilumpu Monastery also treasures characteristic wall paintings. Because of the variety of shapes, resplendent colors and exquisite painting, the murals are considered to be another masterpiece of Buddhist art. Rare sutras, thangka, china and glass services of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasties (1644-1911) are also invaluable assets found in the monastery. These are good relics for researching the history and society of Tibet.