Tibet Destination

Attraction of Shigatse

Shigatse – A Granary of Tibet
Shigatse is a famous cultural city with a history of more than 500 years. Some 3,800 meters above sea level, it was the place Bainqen Erdini Lamas at various times in history were authenticated. It gradually became a political and religious centre in southern Tibet. To its south stands the world renowned Qomolangma (Everest). Outside the city are the Sakya Palkor and Salu Monasteries.

Trashilhunpo Monastery
Trashilhunpo Monastery was built in 1447 at the foot of Nyima Mountain on the outskirts of Shigatse,  under the supervision of the First Dalai Lama, Gedun Zhuiba, one of the disciples of Tsong Khapa. It was expanded by the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Panchen Lamas, and has become the seat of the reincarnation lineage of the Panchen Lamas. The monastery houses the 22.4-meter-high gilded statue of Avalokiteshuara Buddha, the tallest of its kind in the world. This image of the Buddha shows him as being vividly kind and generous.

Palkor Monastery
Located at the western end of the Changge Range in Gyantse County, Palkor Monastery was built in 1414. Its 17 dratsang (colleges) are affiliated to one of sects (Sagyapa, Kadampa and Gelugpa) but gather them all together a salient feature of the monastery. Its main building is the Hall of Coqen. Next to the monastery stands the resplendent Palkor Pagoda. This nine-story pagoda is 32.5 meters high and has 108 doors. Its 77 Buddhist halls house some 100,000 statues of Buddhas. Thus the pagoda has become famous as the "100,000-Buddha Pagoda."

Sakya Monastery
Located in Sakya County southwest of Shigatse, Sakya Monastery is the principal monastery of the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Originally, Sakya Monastery comprised both the Northern and Southern Monasteries. In 1073, Khon Konchog Gyalpo, the founder of Sakyapa sect, built a white palace on a grey clay hill near the northern bank of the Chun Qu River. The locals named the palace Sakya, which means ‘grey soil’. This was the Northern Monastery, but today only it ruins remain.

The Southern Monastery was built as a fortress and was surrounded by a moat. Construction of the monastery began in 1268 and was led by Benqen Sagya Sangpo under the charge of Choygal Phakpa, the fifth in the line of descent of the Sakyapa sect. The walls of this monastery were painted in red, white and grey, the colors respectively, of Manjusri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajradhara. Sakya Monastery is famed as the 'second Dunhuang' due to its huge collection of Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, murals and thangkas. According to statistics, about 40,000 volumes of scripture are housed there. A wooden bookcase which is about 57 meters (187 feet) long, 11 meters (36 feet) high and one meter wide (three feet) has 464 compartments. More than ten thousand texts are kept in the case. Among them, the most precious is Burde Gyaimalung, a record of Tibetan religion, history, philosophy, literature, agriculture and animal husbandry. It is 1.8 meters long, 1.3 meters wide and 0.67 meter thick, and boasts of being the largest scripture in the world. Additionally, the monastery houses 21 volumes of Buddhist scriptures written on palm leaves in Sanskrit. Each contains one hundred to two hundred pages and illustrations in four-color. These are the most precious sutras in the world.

Sakya Monastery has many murals and thangkas. Most of the murals are from the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Among them, the most outstanding are the murals which depict the former Sakya ancestors, Phakpa's meeting with Kublai Khan (the founder of the Yuan dynasty) and mandalas. There are over 3,000 thangkas. The 360 from the Song (960-1279), Yuan and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties are the most precious. The Main Chanting Hall (called lakhang Chenpo in Tibetan) is a must see for all visitors. Covering an area of about 5,800 square meters, the lakhang Chenpo can hold about ten thousand monks when they gather to chant sutras together. In the hall are enshrined three Buddhas - Dipamkara, Sakyamuni and Maitreya and five Sakyapa ancestors. 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 Garwa was bestowed by Kublai Khan. Chongbo Garwa, Dabo Garwa and Nabo Chaza Garwa were carried to the monastery by a wild yak (dhong), a tiger and the God of the Sea. On the second floor of the hall there are 63 murals of mandalas, the best preserved in the monastery. The monastery also houses some historical relics, such as seals, Buddhist figures, porcelain ware and embroidery from the Song and Yuan dynasties. A black wooden casket which contains a white whelk clarion is the most precious. It was presented by Kublai Khan.

Rongphu Monastery
Sitting atop Rongphu Qinzhogma Hill at the foot of Mt. Qomolangma, the monastery is 90 kilometres away from the Tingri County seat and is 5,800 meters above sea level, the highest of its kind in the world. It holds three-day sorcerer gathering starting on the 15th day of the fourth month and the Ghost-Beating Festival starting on the 29th day of the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar.