Monasteries in Tibet

Drepung Monastery : Built in 1416, Drepung Monastery is the first of the three principle monasteries of the Gelugpa School of Buddhism. Gelugpa, or Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism is the branch followed by most Tibetans, and the most influential figure in this faith is the Dalai Lama. Drepung Monastery used to be the living quarters of  Dalai Lamas before the reconstruction of the Potala Palace by the Fifth Dalai Lama between 1645 and 1694.The monastery lies five kilometers west of Lhasa city at the foot of  Mount Gambo Utse.

Sera Monastery: Sera was the last of the three principal Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Buddhist monasteries to be built in Lhasa. Sera Monastery is located about five kilometers north of the Jokhang in Lhasa. It was completed in 1419, under the supervision of Shaka Yeshe. Sera comprises a great sutra chanting hall, a college and 32 sections.

Ganden Monastery: Ganden Monastery was founded in 1409 by Tsongkhapa, the originator of the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat sect. It is one of the three principle Gelugpa monasteries in the Lhasa district. Ganden Monastery is perched just short of the top of Mount Wanrigu or Wangbur, 30 kilometers east of Lhasa, at an altitude of 4500m. Ganden consists of many temples and other buildings.

Rongbuk Monastery : Rongbuk monastery lies at a distance of 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Everest (North)Base Camp. The monastery was built in 1899, as a Nyingmapa monastery .Sakyamuni and Padmasambhava are enshrined in the small temple. 300 meters (980 feet) south of the monastery is the famous Rongbuk Glacier.

Sakya Monastery : Sakya, meaning “Grey Soil” in Tibetan since the soil surrounding it is gray. The walls of the monastery are  painted in red, white and grey colors to represent Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani respectively. Sakya Monastery belongs to the first Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and occupies an area of  14,700 square km.  The Sakya Sect ruled Tibet for more than 70 years. Thus the monastery has a colossal collection of highly valuable art pieces, including 3,000 pieces of sutras that have thousands of years history.

Tashilhunpo Monastery: Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of the six big monasteries of Gelugpa (or Yellow Hat) Sect in Tibet. Also called the “Heap of Glory”, the monastery is located beneath Drolmari (Tara’s Mountain) in Shigatse. The monastery attracts thousands of Buddhists and tourists every year.

Samye Monastery, founded in 779 AD, is in a green valley among barren mountains surrounded by a village. Built between 763 and 75 AD and modeled on the University of Otantapuri in India, it was planned as a representation of the universe. Located at the foot of Mt. Hepo Ri, on the north bank of the Yarlung Tsangpo River of Zharang County, Samye Monastery is about 38 kilometers from Tsedang.

Mindroling Monastery, founded at the end of the 10th century and renovated in 1677, is one of the three major monasteries of the Nyingmapa or Red Hat Sect in Tibet. This monastery laid special stress on the knowledge learning of the Buddhist scriptures, astronomy, Tibetan lunar calendar, calligraphy, rhetoric, Tibetan medicine etc. A distinctive feature of Mindroling monastery is the fact that the monks who reside there can have wives and children. The monastery lies in Zanang County, 43 kilometers east of Lhasa, on the south side of Tsangpo river.

The Tsurpu monastery situated at an altitude of 4300m has a history of 800years. Located high in the tributary of the Tolung Valley, the huge temples and chanting halls of Tsurphu monastery has been rebuilt from the rubble of the Cultural Revolution.Besides its typical Tibetan style, it is three times as large as Potala Palace.

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