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Drepung Monastery

On the slope of the wuze Hill in Genbei five kilometers northwest of Lhasa, the Drepung Monastery was built in 1416 and is the largest of the monastery of the Gelug Sect. It covers and area of 250,000 square meters. In its heyday, it had more than 10,000 monks. The monastery has trained a large group of talents for Tibetan Buddhism. The Fifth Dalai Lama lived here before he moved to Potala Palace. It houses plenty of historical and cultural relics and Buddhist classics.

 

 

Ngagpa College in Drepung
Ngagpa is one of the Drepung' four coelleges, and was devoted to Tantric study. The chapel is dedicated to Dorje Jigje (Yamantaka), a Tantric meditational deity who serves as an opponent to the forces of impermanence. The cartoon-style Dorje Jiaje image is said to have been fashioned by Tsongkhapa himself. Working clockwise, other statues include Palden Lhamo (first clockwise), Nagpo Chenpo(third), Drolma(fourth), Tsongkhapa(fifth), the fifth Dalai Lama(seventh), the Nechung oracle and, by the door, Dorje Drakden. Look for Chogyel to the right, his hand thrusting out of the glass cabinet.

 

 

To get a feel for what Drepung was like before the renovation team arrived, detour briefly up to the Samlo Kangtsang, unrestored and surrounded b melancholic ruins.

 

 

As you follow the pilgrim path (clockwise) around the back of the assembly hall you will pass the small Jampelyang Temple, where pilgrims pour yak butter on the wall and then peer in to see a holy rock painting and get hit on the back with a holy iron rod. Just a little further, tucked in on the right, is the tiny meditation cave of Jamyang Choje, with some fine rock paintings.

 


Loseling College in Drepung
Loseling is the largest of Drepung's colleges, and studies here were devoted to logic. The main hall houses a throne used by the Dalai Lamas, an extensive library, and a long altar decorated with statues of the fifth, seventh and eighth Dalai Lamas, Tsongkhapa and former Drepung abbots. The chorten of Loseling's first abbot is covered with offerings. There are three chapels to the rear of the hall. The one to the left houses 16 arhats, which pilgrims walk under in a circuit. The central chapel has a large image of Jampa and interesting photos and a self-arisen image of the Nechung oracle; the chapel to the right has a small but beautiful statue of Sakyamuni.

 

 

On the 2nd floor you will come to a small chapel full of angry deities and then you pass under the body of a stuffed goat draped with one-mao notes before entering the spook gonkhang(protector chapel). There are more protective deities here, including Nagpo Chenpo, Dorje Drakden and Dorje Lekpa.

 

If you have time, pop into the small debating courtyard west of Loseling College. Monks sometimes do their music practise in the garden here, blowing huge horns and crashing cymbals.

 


Gomang College in Drepung
Gomang is the second largest of Drepung's colleges and follows the same layout as Loseling. The main hall has a whole row of images, including Jampa, Tsepame and the seventh Dalai Lama. Again, there are three deities of lonevity, but more important is the central chapel, chock-a-block with images. As at Loseling, there is a single protector chapel on the upper floor. Women are not allowed into this chapel.

 


Deyang College & Other Colleges
The smallest of Drepung's colleges, this one can safely be missed if you have had enough. The principal image in the main hall is Jampa, flanked by Jampelyang, Drolma, the fifth Dalai Lama and others.

 

East of there is a cluster of friendly colleges that the tour groups never reach, including the Lamba Mitze, Lumbum Kangtsang Jurche Mitze, once home to students from Inner Mongolia, and then round to the Khamdung Kangtsang, the upstairs of which is defaced with faded Mao slogans and images. More buildings sport English signs saying that visitors are welcome.

 

If you are here in the afternoon, save some time to watch the monk-debating between 2:30pm and 4:30pm in the main debating courtyard at the northeast corner of the monastery.



Every year in early August, Tibetans celebrate their major festival - Shoton, the Yogurt Festival. The most important event of this festival - Giant Buddha Show is held in Drepung Monastery.

 

Drepung Kora

 

lovely kora climbs up to around 3900m and probaly should not be attempted until you've had four ot five days to acclimatise in Lhasa.The walk takes about an hour at a leisurely pace. The path passes several rock paintings, climbs up past a high wall used to hang a giant thangka during Shoton festival.

 

 

Admission fee: RMB55/p.p

Tips: There is a RMB20 charge per chapel for photography.

How to get:

Drepung Monastery is easily reached by bike, although most people take minibuses 301 to 303 (RMB2, around 20 minutes) from Beijing Donglu, or the monastery minibuses from the west side of Barkhor Sq.