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Ganden Monastery was founded by Je Tsongkhapa in 1409. Originally, it belonged to the Geluk order, and it was traditionally considered to be the seat of Geluk administrative and political power. The head of the Gelukpa school is also the Ganden Tripa or 'throne-holder of Ganden'. In 1419, his disciples entombed Tsongkhapa's preserved body there in a silver and gold encrusted tomb.
Ganden is the farthest from Lhasa among all the three university monasteries, Drepung, Sera and Ganden. Also, traditionally it had a smaller population: with some 6,000 monks in the early 20th century. Waddell reports an estimate of about 3,300 in the 1890s. But the number shinked to about 2,000 in 1959.
Ganden Monastery consisted of two principal original colleges, Jangtse and Shartse. The former one means North Peak, and the other, East Peak. There are totally three main sights in the Ganden Monastery: the Serdung to contain the tomb of Tsongkhapa, the Tsokchen Assembly Hall and the Ngam Cho Khang the chapel, used to be the place for Tsongkhapa to teach. Some of his artifacts can also be found here.The best way to visit this monastery is to follow the pilgrims who go to the Ganden Kora. But many tourists prefer trekking from Ganden Monastery to Samye Temple. Ganden to Samye trekking asks well adaption to the high altitude so this trekking is recommended after you have stayed in Lhasa for a few days.
More than two dozen major chapels with large Buddha statues are contained here. The largest one has in total 3,500 monks. In 1958, Tenzin Gyatso, the present Dalai Lama, took his final degree examination in Ganden. And he claims to feel a particularly close connection with Tsongkhapa.
During the rebellion of 1959, Ganden Monastery was completely destroyed. In 1966, it was severely shelled by Red Guard artillery. Then the monks had to dismantle the remains. Unfortunately, most of Tsongkhapa's mummified body was burned. But Bomi Rinpoche, one of the monks, managed to save the skull and some ashes from the fire. Since the 1980s, re-building constructions are undergoing and the "red-painted lhakang in the centre is the reconstruction of Ganden's sanctum sanctorum containing Tsongkapa's reliquary chorten called the Tongwa Donden, 'Meaningful to Behold'".
In Karnataka, India, the Tibetan population built another Ganden Monastery, which is in the Tibetan settlement at Mundgod. First established in 1966, this settlement of Tibetan refugees is the largest of its kind in India. And the land was offered by the Indian government.
The Ganden and the Drepung Monastery are in the Tibetan settlement, near Mundgod. A total of 13,000 residents lived there in 1999. Nine camps with two monasteries and one nunnery form the Tibetan settlement there. Also, there is a credit bank for farms, an agricultural institute and a craft center. People have known something about modern technology and communication technology. However, all the curriculum of the Ganden Monastery remains similar to the traditional teachings of the pre-1959 Ganden Monastery.
The reestablishment also includes the Ganden Monastery Colleges Jangtse and Shartse. They are named the Ganden Jangtse College and the Gaden Shartse Monastery, both in Karnataka.
In 2008, the Dalai Lama's government in exile expelled over 500 monks from the Ganden Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, because their refusal to adhere to the ban against the protective deity Dorje Shugden. They founded the Shar Gaden Monastery in its immediate neighborhood. It is scheduled to be officialy opened in 23-26 October 2009. As a result, the biggest pision of Gaden Shartse Monastery, the Dokhang Khangtsen, where most of the departing monks came from, ceased to exist.