Built in 1416, Drepung Monastery is the first of the three
principle monasteries of the Gelugpa School of Buddhism. Gelugpa,
or Yellow Hat, Buddhism is the branch followed by most Tibetans,
and the most influential figure in this faith is the Dalai Lama.
Drepung Monastery used to be the living quarters of Dalai Lamas
before the reconstruction of the Potala Palace by the Fifth Dalai
Lama between 1645 and 1694. Drepung was listed as a national
cultural relic in 1982.
Drepung Monastery lies five kilometers west of Lhasa city under
Mount Gambo Utse. Surrounded by the dark faces of mountains, its
grand white buildings stand out shining in the sunlight. If taking
bus 3, 301 or 3O2, you will have to walk a long way from the bus
stop to the gate of the monastery. A 20 yuan taxi ride will bring
you right to the gate.
The Fifth Dalai Lama enlarged Drepung and ruled there while the
Potala was being built. This magnificent monastery was developed to
an enormous scale, resembling a huge walled city. From its roofs,
one can enjoy a scenic view of Lhasa City.
In this monastery, the most important activity is called Shai Dafo
('Sunning the Buddha'), which means to take the giant Buddha
(actually a giant banner depicting Buddha called a Thangka) outside
into the sunlight. The festival is held on the first day of the
Shoton Festival, or the Yoghurt Festival, around early August every
year. It is the busiest day around the monastery with crowded
people and heavy traffic. When the sun rises, the huge Thangka is
taken from the monastery and extended up the mountainside. Tibetans
pray under the Thangka and circle it in a long queue. The best
place to take a photo of Giant Living Buddha Thangka is from the
According to religious records, during the foundation of Drepung,
Tsongkhapa, the founder of Gelugpa Buddhism, discovered a magical
white conch shell with counter clockwise swirls, believed to be
buried by the Buddha Sakyamuni. Tsong Khapa bestowed this religious
treasure to Drepung, and it can still be seen today in the Great
Sutra Chanting Hall.
As the most powerful of the Gelugpa monasteries, Drepung had seven
colleges and, at its height, housed over 10,000 monks. It owns many
splendid murals, elaborate statues and other rich treasures. A
giant golden statue of Buddha called Jiangba Tongzhenma sits near
the precious conch shell.It’s more convenient by Taxi than by bus, and the fee is about RMB
How to Get to there?