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About Tashilhunpo Monastery
As an important national cultural relic protection site, the Tashilhunpo Monastery is located on the southern slope of the Nyiseri Mountain to the west of Shigatse City. It is largest monastery of the Gelug Sect in Rear Tibet, and the main stage where generations of Panchen Lamas carried out religious and political activities. It is one of the 4 main monasteries in Tibet, with the other 3 (Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery and Ganden Monastery) in Lhasa.
“Tashilhunpo” means “Auspicious Sumeru” in Tibetan language. It is built along the mountains and consists of the Coqen Hall, the Qamba Buddha Hall, the Han Buddha Hall, the momorial hall for the holy stupas from the 5th to the 10th Panchen Lamas, the Sunning Buddha Platform and an old meeting hall where the Panchen Khanpo used to hold meetings. There are 4 Zhacangs, 64 Kamcuns and 56 sutra halls. Taking up 300,000 square meters, the whole construction is tightly laid out like a mountainous city. The monastery not only enshrines the world’s largest glided Qamba Buddha bronze statue, there are also many precious cultural relics such as the murals recording people’s lives.
In the 10th month of the Tibetan calendar in 1447, Ganden Zhuba, the most famous disciple of Master Zongkapa and lager known as the 1st Dalai Lama after his death, built the Tashilhunpo Monastery. The Coqen Hall, Sakyamuni Hall, Qamba Buddha Hall, Tara Hall, Buddha Dharma Protector Hall, Tsolhakang and other constructions were soon completed. Ganden Zhuba assumed the 1st abbot and gave the monastery the present name. The Tara Hall, Sunning Buddha Platform and others were built in later years. When Lobsang Qoigyi Gyaincain became the 16th abbot of the Tashilhunpo Monastery during the Ming Dynasty, a major round of expansion was carried out. Besides 2 golden-tiled halls, the Ngaba Zhacang Tantra College and many halls were added. At that time, the monastery had over 3,000 buildings and 51 subordinate monasteries, providing home for some 5,000 Lamas. This laid the foundation for today’s Tashilhunpo Monastery.
In 1645 of the Qing Dynasty, Mongolian tribe leader Gushi Khan presented Lobsang Qoigyi Gyaincain the title of “Panchen Bokdo”. Traditionally, Mongolian people honor those people of both wisdom and courage with the title of “Bokdo”. Lobsang Qoigyi Gyaincain passed away in 1662 at the beginning of the reign of Emperor Kangxi. His disciple, the 5th Dalai Lama Lobsang Gyaico ordered the search of Lobsang Qoigyi Gyaincain’s soul boy, which marked the establishment of the Panchen reincarnation system. Lobsang Qoigyi Gyaincain was commenmorated as the 4th Panchen Lama. Panchen Lama became the supreme lifelong abbot of the Tashilhunpo Monastery, where generations of Panchen Lamas resided. In 1713, Emperor Kangxi dispatched envoys into Tibet and conferred the title of “Panchen Erdeni” together with a golden book and golden seal to the 5th Panchen Lama. This symbolized the official recognition of this Living Buddha reincarnation system’s religious status.
Tips of Tashilhunpo Monastery
1. If there are some chapels locked, you can show your ticket to the Lamas and asked them to open politely.
2. The white chapel will not open to publich because it’s the dorm of generations of Panchen Lamas.