2015 Join-in Group Tours

About Us | Contact us | Map | Feedback
Home » Tibet Attractions » Drepung Monastery

Drepung Monastery

The largest Tibetan monastery, the Drepung Monastery is located 5 kilometers west of Lhasa. It is one of the three Tibetan Buddhist Gelugpa university Monasteries, with the others being the Ganden and Sera Monasteries. The monastery had are many as 10,000 monks living in it at a time.

The Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choge Tashi Palden and was named for the sacred residence of Shidhanyakataka in South India. It was the principal head of the Gelugpa school and was known as the most important Gelugpa monasteries. It was known for the high standards of its academic study. In the monastery is the Ganden Pogang Hall, constructed in 1518, which was the residence of the Dalai Lama until the Potala Palace was built by the Fifth Dalai Lama.

Occupying an area of 250,000 square meters, the Drepung Monastery had 540 pastures. The monastery is located at the foot of Gambo Utse Mountain and from a distance it looks like a heap of rice, giving the monastery its name which means ‘Monastery of Collecting-Rice. The monastery’s grounds have temples, caves and two white pagodas. The buildings were all centerally located on the pagodas. The main buildings are the Ganden Potrang, Coqen Hall, the four Zhacang colleges, and Kamacuns. The Ganden Potrang was built in the early 16th century and became the residence of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Dalai Lamas. After the Fifth Dalai Lama moved to the Potala Palace, it was used as a place for political and religious meetings. The Coqen Hall is located in the very center of the Drepung Monastery. There is a large square in front of the hall. Inside the hall is the Sutra Hall which is supported by 183 pillars. Inside are statues of The Buddha. The second story houses the monastery’s collection of sutras. The third story has a huge bronze statue of the Oamba Buddha. There are several courtyards in the forest on the grounds where monks debate sutras. The winner of the sutra debates will qualify to test for the senior degree of Geshi.

The monastery is divided into the "Seven Great Collages": Gomang, Loseling, Deyang, Shagkor, Gyelwa, Dulwa, and Ngagpa. The hierarchy is very comples with the main branches consisting of Coqen, Zhacang, Kamcun, and Myicun. The Coqen is the highest position in the hierarchy. Zhacang belongs to it and Kamcun is under Zhacang with Myicun as its subordinate. The education is set up so that every year there are 8 chances to study the sutra, with each time lasting from 2 weeks to a month. Monks have tests and based on their performance, they receive degrees that puts them into different levels.