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Tibet - Greater Lhasa (Ganden, Sera, ....) 3/5

GREATER LHASA - surrounding monasteries, co untryside
There are several big and very important monasteries around Lhasa. Some of them are in the suburbs others in a day trip distance from the city. Those three mentioned bellow are the biggest and the most important of them all.

DREPUNG - Some 8km from the Jokhang, used to be one of the largest monasteries (means “rice heap”). Founded in 1416 by a disciple of Tsongkhapa. It has four main colleges devoted to “Ngagpa” - Tantric study, “Loseling” - Logic, “Gomang” and “Deyang” - religious study. There is also an interesting debating courtyard, but I felt about it as being rather a theatre performance (also with many tourists around) then a real religious discussion. It used to host up to 10.000 monks. Now they are allowed to have only something like 800 heads.

Kitchen, Dhrepung Monastery

SERA - lies 5 km from Jokhang temple. It also belongs to the Gelupa order. It used to have up to 5.000 monks, but now you can find only a few hundreds there. It has a really good debating courtyard. Founded by another disciple of Tsongkhapa in 1419. Sera kora (circuit) is great, containing many stunning views. You can also climb the mountains behind and it is good starting point for a further trekking. Generally speaking, it is very lively place busting with real atmosphere. Together with the Ganden it would be my most favourite monastery in a whole Tibet.
SERA UTSE - retreat place, high above the monastery. There are no tourists there, just a few pilgrims, but really great place with very nice keepers. Of course I climbed up there as I saw it from bellow. A small boy (around 6 years old) took care of me and showed me around. Then he invited me into their hose, with the older keeper hosted me with tea and we learned some English together. I enjoyed a few hours up there with them.

Sera Monastery

GANDEN (4500 meters) - around 50 km from Lhasa. I made my way there cycling. All the way to he village below the monastery. Here I parked my bike and went for a steep climb up to the monastery. There is a road just being finished, but I much more like the walk. You also meet lots of Tibetan pilgrims in this way. You have time to enjoy a great views on the surrounding mountains and nearby valleys. Ganden was build as a first Gelupa monastery in 1409 (means Joyous) and it is also named as the Western Paradise (known as Tushita), the home of Jampa the Future Buddha. It is one of the most beautiful and friendly monasteries. Come around the noon, when the tour groups leave and also most of the pilgrims start to descent to catch their last busses to Lhasa. Then you can slowly browse many temples and enjoy quiet, magical atmosphere of the place and the surrounding mountains. I was lucky to experience a “real” and most powerful debate in my life, with the stunning mountain scenery in the background. I was the only intruder!

Ganden Monastery, surrounding mountains

Continue your reading here: - "Tibet - Tibetans, Tibetan culture 4/5

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