Why is the Ganden Monastery special?
Ganden Monastery is one of the earliest and largest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, and stands atop of the six famous temples of Gelugpa - a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Its significance as a religious, artistic, political and cultural relic led to it being preserved by the National Key Cultural Relic Preservation scheme.
Ganden Monastery Highlights
Tsongkapa, founder of Gelugpa, established Ganden Monastery as the first Gelugpa monastery in 15th century Gelugpa. And Gandenpai (Gelug Sect's original name) which means exhortation, also named after the Ganden monastery.
Besides its typical Tibetan style, it is three times as large as Potala. It was the first Gelugpa Monastery and had been the main seat of this major Buddhist order ever since. With its stupendous views of the surrounding Kyi-Chu valley and fascinating scenery, Ganden monastery is an experience unlike the other major Gelugpa monasteries in Lhasa area.
The three main sights of Ganden Monastery are the Serdung, which contains the golden tomb of Tsongkhapa, the Tsokchen Assembly Hall and the Ngam Cho Khang Chapel where Tsongkhapa traditionally taught his students.
The Ganden Lingkhor
A visit to Ganden Monastery is incomplete without walking its hour long pilgrimage route. The views over the Lhasa River Valley from this 4,500 meter high (14,500 feet) vantage point are inspiring, their beauty paying rich tribute to Tsongkhapa's prudence in locating his monastery here.
This walk will also introduce many aspects of a Tibetan pilgrimage route. The path is signposted by a rich array of colourful prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. Either side, rock faces are rubbed with yak butter offerings and small shrines in rock fissures are filled with tsha-tshas, small religious offering tablets made of clay deposited by pilgrims.
Buddha Painting Unfolding Festival
Every year, one of the grandest of Buddhist activities - Buddha Painting Unfolding Festival - is conducted in the monastery, attracting thousands of visitors and disciples.