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Sakya Monastery

The monastery is 130km far away from Shigatse, and Sakya means "Grey Soil" in Tibetan as it is surrounded by grey soil. Sakya is the main monastery of the Sakyapa Buddhism sect and is deemed as the Second Dunhuang. The Drum River divides the monastery into two parts, north and south.


This monastery is must-see sight for visitors to Tibet. Walls of Sakya Monastery were painted in red, white and grey strips, which represent Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani respectively.


Sakya Monastery, reputed as the "Second Dunhuang", is the first Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism created by its initiator Khon Konchog Gyalpo in 1073 from which Sakyapa rose and once ruled Tibet. Sakya Monastery occupies 14,700 square km.


It was shaped in square, and the troves in the monastery include “Beiye Sutra”, “Shouxing Picture”, etc. Sakya Monastery not only records the history of the combination of religion and politics in Tibet, but also deemed as the sign that Tibet was brought into Chinese domain officially. Sakya Monastery has 900 years history, and the Sakya Sect ruled Tibet for more than 70 years.


The Southern Monastery was built like a fortress and was surrounded by a moat. Construction of the monastery began in 1268 and was led by Benqen Sagya Sangbo under the commission of Choygal Phakpa, the fifth descendent of Sakyapa Sect.


Sakya Kloster is famed as the 'Second Dunhuang' due to its colossal collection of numerous Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, murals and Thangkas. According to statistics, about 40,000 volumes of scriptures are housed there.


A wooden bookshelf which is about 57 meters (187 feet) long, 11 meters high (36 feet) and one meter wide (three feet) has 464 grids. More than ten thousand scriptures are housed on the shelf. Among them, the most precious is Burde Gyaimalung, which records Tibetan religion, history, philosophy, literature, agriculture and animal husbandry.


It is 1.8 meters (six feet) long, 1.3 meters (four feet) wide and 0.67 meter (two feet) thick and boasts the biggest scriptures in the world. Additionally, it also houses 21 volumes of Buddhist scriptures written on Pattra leaves in Sanskrit. Each consists of one hundred to two hundred pages and four-color illustrations. They are the most precious sutras in the world.


The Main Chanting Hall, also called Lakhang Chenmo in Tibetan, is a must-see for all visitors. Covering an area of about 5,800 square meters (1.4 acres), Lakhang Chenmo can hold about ten thousand monks chanting sutras together. Three Buddhas - Dipamkarara, Sakyamuni and Maitreya, and five Sakyapa ancestors are enshrined in the hall.


There are forty huge vermilion pillars supporting the ceiling, four of which are about one meter (three feet) in diameter. Each of the four pillars has its own story. Gyina Seqen Garna was bestowed by Kublai Khan. Chongbo Garwa, Dabo Garwa and Nabo Chaza Garwa were carried to the monastery by a wild yak, a tiger and the God of the Sea.


In addition, there are 63 murals of mandalas, the best preserved in the monastery, on the second floor of the hall.


Location: lies in Sakya Country, 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Shigatse.

Transportation: It can be reached by taking the bus at the Shigatse Bus Station to Sakya. The bus leaves at 7:00-8:00 and takes five hours at RMB 30 Yuan. There is a checkpoint before entering Sakya. Then walk along the road, you will see some white buildings on the left. After about 5 minutes you’ll arrive at Sakya Monastery.

Ticket: CNY 45

Opening hours: 09:00 to 12:00; 14:00 to 18:30


If you want to experience Diamond Buddhism Rituals, you can come in summer and winter when there will be large-scale and characteristic Diamond Buddhism Rituals. When performing the Holy Dance, the dancers all wear masks of Sakya Monastery Guard God and other different holy beasts. The holy dance vividly reflects the basic content of Tibetan Mizong holy dance killing devils. During these two rituals, thousands of lamas and crowd will come and worship. Praying the holy dance brings happiness and fortune to human beings. And this is the golden season for travel in this monastery.

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