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Ganden Monastery

Ganden is the farthest from Lhasa among all the three university monasteries, Drepung, Sera and Ganden. It was traditionally considered to be the seat of Geluk administrative and political power.

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Ganden Monastery  is the 1st and primary monastery of the Gelug Sect in Tibetan Buddhism. Its Tibetan name refers to a grand site in the Western Heaven of Buddhism. Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty granted another name “Yong Tai” to the monastery. Sitting on the Wangbori Mountain which resembles a reclining elephant to the northeast of the Dagze County, the monastery facing east commands an elevation of 3,800 meters above sea level. Major construction in the monastery include the Lagyi Hall, Yangbagyain Hall, Chitokang, Angyiukang, Xaze and Jamze Zhacang Buddhist colleges, and dozens of Kamcuns and Myicuns.

The Ganden Monastery was built in the early 15th century. Upon the Tibetan New Year in 1409, Zongkapa, founder of Gelug or Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, gathered over 8,000 Lamas to hold a Grand Summons Ceremony at the Jokhang Temple of Lhasa to commemorate Sakymuni. Since then, the ceremony has become a traditional annual event. In Feb. 1410, the Ganden Monastery was set up with over 500 Lamas and Zongkapa himself presided over a grand ceremony to enshrine the monastery. Zongkapa also became the 1st Ganden Khripa (or Abbot) of the Ganden Monastery.

The creation of the Ganden Summons Ceremony and the establishment of the Ganden Monastery symbolized the formation of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Together with the Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery which were set up later, they became known as the “3 Large Monasteries of Lhasa”. As Zongkapa himself initiated the Ganden Monastery, acted as its 1st abbot and passed away in the monastery, Ganden Monastery commands indisputable status among all the Gelug Sect Monasteries.

The Lagyi Hall is the largest gathering ground in the monastery. With 3 storeys, the hall takes up 2,000 square meters and can hold 3,000 people at the same time. The 4-storey Yangbagyain Hall stands to the west of the Lagyi Hall and the Holy Stupa Hall which hosts silver stupas for various generations of Ganden Khripa abbots. The Chitokang Hall was one of the earliest buildings in the Ganden Monastery. It had been the bed chamber of Zongkapa. After the great master passed away in 1419, the hall enshrined his sacred stupa with some of his personal items. To the west locate the Xaze and Jamze Zhacang Buddhist colleges, as well as the Kamcuns and Myicuns under the 2 Zhacangs’ jurisdiction.

The Lamas in the monastery are administrated through the Xaze and Jamze Zhacangs. In the Qing Dynasty, the monastery had a quota of 3,300 people, while at its peak, the monastery accommodated 5,000 people. The Xaze Prince of Dharma and Jamze Prince of Dharma took turns to become the Ganden Khripa abbot. Since Zongkapa’s time, 97 generations of Ganden Khripas have ruled the monastery.

In 1961, the Ganden Monastery became a State important cultural relic protection unit. The monastery suffered destruction during the Cultural Revolution but renovations are carried in recent years.

Tips of Ganden Monastery

1. If you choose to trek, please prepare your camp equipment, enough food and clothes.

2. The visit time for Ganden Monastery is likely to be arranged within 2 hours. Due to the long distance, you may reserve at least 1 day for it.

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