Drepung Monastery

Entrance Fee: 55 RMB
Operating Hours: 9:00 to 17:00

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Drepung Monastery located at the foot of Mount Gaphel about five kilometers from the western suburb of Lhasa is one of the most important monastery of Gelugpa of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery which covers an area of 250000 square meters with 7700 monks all together can be considered as the largest scale monastery of its same kind. When you see from afar, the grand and magnificent white building of the monastery looks like a heap of rice. Therefore, it was given the name of Drepung Monastery which means Monastery of Collecting Rice in Tibetan language.
Founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choge Tashi Palden (1397-1449), one of Tsongkhapa’s main disciples, Drepung Monastery was the principal seat of the Gelugpa school and it retained the premier place amongst the four great Gelugpa monasteries. Moreover, the Ganden Podang in Drepung was the residence of the Dalai Lamas until the Great Fifth Dalai Lama constructed the Potala Palace. Drepung was known for the high standards of its academic study as well.
The advisable visiting route for Drepung Monastery is to begin with Ganden Podrang (Ganden Palace), located at the southwestern part of the monastery, which was built under the supervision of the Second Dalai Lama around year 1530. It had been the residence for the second, third, fourth and the fifth Dalai Lama. After the fifth Dalai Lama constructed and moved to the Potala Palace, it turned to be a meeting place for the local regime for both politics and religion affairs.
After that, you may continue to visit the Assembly Hall which located at the center of the monastery. A striking statue of Dalai Lama XIII can be found on the first floor. Readings of the scriptures are often held here during day time. While stepping on the wide stone stairs, you will see the grand Entrance Hall for the Sutra Hall which supported by 183 pillars, and spanning 1,850 square meters. A huge bronze statue of Maitreya Buddha in his 8th year is enshrined on the third floor. Visitors are offered holy water; to receive it, cup your right hand above your left, take a sip, and splash the rest on your head. The second floor of the main building houses Buddhist scriptures and the first floor contains multiple Buddha statues and many other colorful decorations. A chapel to the north of the second floor houses a sacred mirror said to cure the facial diseases of those who gaze into it.
Several courtyards on the grounds of the monastery which normally closed to Zhacang and surrounded by trees are used for monks to debate on the sutras. After enduring the debating period in both Zhacang and the entire monastery, the winner will obtain the qualification to attend the test for the senior degree of Geshi.
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