Drepung Monastery

Drepung is one of the three great Gelukpa monasteries near Lhasa, the other two being Sera and Ganden. There are centers of learning and monastic training to which monks from all corners of the Tibet would come to spend as long as fifteen or twenty years methodically studying and debating the meaning of the Bhuddist scriptures. Thus for enturies its existed as a small monastic township housing thousands of fully ordained monks, workers and other functionaries. Drepung founded in 1416 by jamyangChoje Tashi pelden, a disciple of Tsongkhapa, Drepung soon grew into  largest of all Gelukpa monasteries, housing more than seven thousand monks. It could well claim to have been the largest monastery in the world has known. Drepung also quickly became a major center of Gelukpa religious power. The second, Third and fourth Dalai lamas all lived and were entombed here. During the time of the fifth Dalai lama, Drepung became a center of political power as well, as the Dalai lama’s personal residence was transformed into the first administrative center of the Tibetan.The monastery was also renowned for its scholastic training. It produced many great lamas, including Jamyang Zhepa, the founder of the labrang monastery in Amdo.

Like all other tibetan monasteries. Its organized in a system of colleges ( dratsang) and houses ( khangtsens). The colleges are the main units of the monastery, distinguished from each other by the kind of studies the monks follow there. Each college has an abbot ( khenpo), who is responsible for administratives matters and a disciplinarian ( ge-ko), who is charge of the monks conduct. Affiliated with each college are a number of houses, where the monk- students live for the duration of their training. The houses are divided according to the regions of the country that the monks came from. Although each college has its own assembly hall and chapels, the monastery usually has another man assembly hall ( tsog-chen) where, on important occations, the monks from all the colleges can gather.

Drepung is about eight kilometers ( five miles) from the west of lhasa. Its reached by leaving the city along the Dekyi Nublam, going west ( toward the airport).

The turnoff for the monastery is on your right. Its one kilometer up the hillside; you must walk up this last stretch unless you come by jeep or private tour bus. The colleges and chapels are open daily.During your Tibet tour you should never miss to visit this remarkable monastery and Tibet tour guides would take you there to explore if you are interested.