Some important monasteries you must visit in and around Lhasa central Tibet
If you are planing a trip to Lhasa. You must know some important monasteries which is old, unique and historical. We are now discussing about the information of some of most important monasteries which You could suggest to your host or agent to include on your travel itinerary. open the link and Scroll down to learn about Monasteries that you must visit while traveling in Lhasa central Tibet.
The Potala Palace
Built on the top of Marpo Hill during 1645 by more than 7000 workers, Enclosed within massive walls, gates and turrets built of rammed earth and stone the White and Red Palaces and ancillary buildings of the Potala Palace rise from Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley at an altitude of 3,700 metres. As the winter palace of the Dalai Lama from the 7th century CE the complex symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The White Palace contains the main ceremonial hall with the throne of the Dalai Lama, and his private rooms and audience hall are on the uppermost level. The palace contains 698 murals, almost 10,000 painted scrolls, numerous sculptures, carpets, canopies, curtains, porcelain, jade, and fine objects of gold and silver, as well as a large collection of sutras and important historical documents. To the west and higher up the mountain the Red Palace contains the gilded burial stupas of past Dalai Lamas. Further west is the private monastery of the Dalai Lama, the Namgyel Dratshang.
Jokhang was founded around 647 AD. The king Songtsen Gampo married Chinese princess Wencheng and Nepalese princess Bhrikuti to make an alliance with neighboring countries. Both of them arrived in Tibet with holy statues and sacred objects. The king initiated construction of the Jokhang to house a statue of Jowo Mekyo Dorje, a representation of eight years old Shakyamuni, brought to Tibet as part of the dowry of his Nepali wife. Consequently, the temple is facing West, where Nepal is located. At the same time, the Ramoche Temple was constructed to house another important Buddha statue, Jowo Sakyamuni, representing Shakyamuni at the age of twelve, brought to Tibet by the king’s Chinese wife. That’s why the Ramoche Temple faces East, where China is located.
The Jokhang temple was constructed on the Otang lake. According to the legend, thousands of goats carried soil to fill up the lake. To this day some can hear the sounds of the water. Newari artisans came from Nepal to work on the construction. After the death of King Songtsen Gampo, Tibetans moved Jowo Sakyamuni statue from Ramoche to Jokhang to protect it from Tang army that intended to take it back to China. The statue remained hidden in one of the halls of the Jokhang until king Tride Tsugtsen’s wife brought it out. Nowadays we can see the original building with many elements that are dating back to the 7th century. There were, however, many additions to the complex. The courtyard appeared during the Tsongkhapa’s time. Later the Fifth Dalai Lama enlarged it and reconstructed some elements of the temple. A few interior carved pillars and entrance arches remain original from the 7th century. It is the work of Newari artisans, who came from the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal to work on the construction. During the Cultural Revolution, the interior of the Jokhang was severely damaged and many artifacts were stolen. The temple was later restored.
The First Karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa visited Tsurphu in 1159, at the age of fifty, and laid the foundation for the establishment of a seat there by making offerings to local protectors, just before he left for Kham, eastern Tibet.
In 1189, at the age of eighty, Düsum Khyenpa returned to Tsurphu and founded his main seat, known as the "earthly abode of the sacred place of the heart (or mind)", in the valley of Tölung in central part of Tibet Just 65 Km far from Lhasa. This monastery was to grow into a place in which over one thousand monks practiced. Since this time, Tsurphu has been the main seat of the successive manifestations of the line of the Karmapas, and of the Karma Kagyu lineage.
Drepung Monastery was built approximately 8 km to the West from Lhasa’s Old Town. It was established in 1416 by Jamyang Choje, the disciple of Tsongkhapa the founder of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The complex soon attracted many monks and turned into an important educational center. There were four academies studying Tibetan Buddhism, and Dalai Lamas were studying there. Drepung became very influential since the Dalai Lamas executed their power from there. The Fifth Dalai Lama moved the seat to the newly constructed Potala Palace. Tombs of the second, third and fourth Dalai Lamas are located in Drepung.
"Drepung", meaning "rice gather" in Tibetan, comes from the monastery's white architectural complex carpeting on Mount Gambo Utse, which look like a heap of rice in a distance.
The Drepung Monastery is located on Gambo Utse Mountain, 10 km west of Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region. The monastery was a small temple occupying less than 20 square meters with only seven monks at the very beginning. It did not be enlarged to be seven dratsangs (Tibetan Buddhist schools) by the fifth Dalai Lama until the first half of 17th century. With over 500 years' development, the monastery once rose up to be the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery with more than 10,000 monks, 3305 subsidiary branches, 141 manors and over 540 pastures before 1950s. In 1959, a democratic reform abolished the serfdom in Tibet and the feudal privilege of monasteries, which made Drepung Monastery one of the public religionary sites for the common to undertake religionary activities.
Centered on its first building, nowadays Drepung Monastery has expanded to be a large-size architectural complex covering 250,000 square meters, with the Tsokchen Hall, four dratsangs and the former residence of Dalai Lama being the major buildings, under national protection.
Drak Yerpa Monastery & Caves
Drak Yerpa is only a short drive to the east of Lhasa, Tibet, and consists of a monastery and a number of ancient meditation caves that used to house about 300 monks. It’s located on a hillside in Dagzê County. The entrance to the Yerpa Valley is about 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) northeast of Lhasa on the northern bank of the Kyichu. From there, it is another 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) to the famous ancient meditation caves in the spectacular limestone cliffs of the Yerpa Valley. There is an ancient sky burial site opposite the main caves.
The famous legendary hero Gesar of Ling is said to have visited the valley. The holes his arrows left in the cliffs are believed to be evidence of his presence.
There are a number of small temples shrines and hermitages and the cliffs contain some of the earliest known meditation sites in Tibet, some dating back to pre-Buddhist times. Among the more famous are those traditionally connected with Songtsen Gampo (604–650 CE), (traditionally the 33rd king of the Yarlung Dynasty and first emperor of a united Tibet). His Tibetan queen, Monza Triucham, founded the Dra Yerpa temple here.
He and his two foreign-born queens are said to have meditated in the 'Peu Marsergyi Temple' and in the 'Chogyel Puk', and to have discovered 'self-originated' symbols of the Buddha-body, speech and mind. Padmasambhava, or Guru Rinpoche (late 8th to early 9th century), meditated and practiced tantric yoga with his yogini Yeshe Tsogyal here, and to have spent 7 months in meditation in the 'Dawa Puk', which is considered to be one of his three most important places of attainment. After Lhalung Pelgyi Dorje assassinated the anti-Buddhist Bon Emperor Langdarma in 842 CE he is said to have hidden in a cave and meditated for 22 years. His hat was kept there until 1959.
Yerpa became one of the three most important centers of meditation and retreat in Central Tibet. Several of Guru Rinpoche's disciples are also said to have meditated here. Atisha (982 – 1054 CE) preached extensively in the valley. Atisha's hermitage is in ruins but had 300 monks in the 19th century and was the summer quarters for the Ramoche Monastery (the Upper Tantric College).
Later histories record that both Songtsen Gampo and Trisong Detsen (756–797) founded temples at Yerpa, and Klu-mes Tshul-khrims did some refurbishing in the 11th century. Tradition says that after Songtsen Gampo's only son, Gungri Gungsten, was born to Mangza Tricham, Princess of Mang, one of his wives: "A shrine and a stupa dedicated to the tutelary deity of mother and son were built upon the lap of a rocky mountain that resembled a seated image of the Holy Tara in the region of Yerpa."