Sakya Monastery

sakya monastery
Sakya Monastery courtyard

Sakya monastery is located in Sakya county of Tibet Autonomous Region. It is 127km from the Shigatse on the way to Tingri. The monastery is the seat of the Sakya Tibetan Buddhist sect and was founded in 1073 by Kuchok Gyalpo. He is originally a Nyingmapa monk of a noble family of Tsang, and later, he became the first Sakya Trizin’s residence.

Sakya monastery

The monastery’s architecture is very different from the rest of the monasteries in Tibet. It was because of the huge influence of the Mongolian Empire after the downfall of the Tibetan Empire. The monastery covers around 18,000 square meters with surrounding with huge high walls. There are four watchtowers at each corner of the monastery compound. The only surviving building is the main prayer hall known as Lhakang Chenmo. Due to the cultural revolution in Tibet, most of the monastery’s buildings were ruined, but part of the monastery was partially restored later.

Sakya monastery library
Sakya monastery library

But some of the most amazing structures are seen today as well. The pillars of the main temple are from different types of tree trunks. It’s 10 meters high, and its circumference might have 2 meters. Around 30 pillars inside the main hall, with 3 pillars in the column and 10 pillars in each row.  There are many old Thangka paintings hanged over the walls of the hall and many more old murals.

Pray hall of Sakya monastery
Pray hall of Sakya monastery

The most spectacle site in the monastery is the great library. It was built under the orders of Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan and presented to Phagpa Lama on his visit to China. This library consists of thousand volumes of Buddhist scriptures written in gold letters. These include literature, history, philosophy, art, and astronomy texts. Each page has six feet long and eighteen inches in breadth. These books are bound in an iron case.  These books are shelved along the walls of the main temple behind the prayer hall. It is sealed up in a wall 60 meters long and 10 meters high. It is believed to have remained untouched for hundreds of years.

How to travel to Sakya Monastery

It’s quite far from Lhasa but comfortable to travel to Sakya from Lhasa. There is a daily train from Lhasa to Shigatse, One in the morning and one in the afternoon. From Shigatse to Sakya, there is public transportation, and also you can hire a taxi. It takes around 1-2 hours. The roads are good.

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