Gar monastery is located at one of most beautiful scenic locations of the remote part of the Kham Nancheng surrounded by mountains, verdant forests and inhabited by many kinds of bird and wildlife. One of the most beautiful and amazing sites is that the blue sheep, monkeys and other animals are often seen roaming freely around the monastery without fear of human existence. Gar monastery is a true hidden gem in Tibet and beauty of its location is different from any other monastery in Tibet.
More than 700 years old Gar monastery is located 3700 meters above the sea level and 70 kilometres from Nancheng County. Around the year 1200, Gar Chodingpa founded the monastery at the beautiful Zaqu Valley since which this monastery produced some of the greatest masters and yogis of Kham Nancheng. Gar monastery is divided into two: an upper and a lower. The lower section has a school for young novice monks and also has a small village nearby. The upper section is built alongside a crazy rock wall face that looks impossible to reach. The road to the upper monastery is actually quite good. The view from the top is amazing. Currently, there are around 90 monks at Gar Monastery, many of them under the age of 20. A new dormitory was recently completed next to the upper monastery.
This Drigung Kabyu sect monastery was founded in the 18th century. When Gar Chodingpa was born as Gar Tongtsen, he brought back the daughter of the Chinese King Thangthai Dzung as a queen for King Songtsen Gampo. Together the minister and process brought a special prayer wheel. Minister Gar preserved the wheel and looking into the future, he concealed it at Sha’ug Tago and sealed it with a prayer that he reveals and retain it again in the future. Later Gar Chodingpa revealed the prayer wheel and set it up in Pumu Phulung below Vajra Rock. Due to the installation of the prayer wheel, the Phulung Monastery started here. He preserved the welfare of beings for eight incarnations at that place. His eight incarnations at Phalung Monastery was his first incarnation at Gar Monastery, as gar Tenzin Phuntsog, the son of the King of Nangchen, Karma Rabten. The 20th throne holder in the Drikung succession relied on the peerless Dharma King Tenzin Phuntsog as his guru.
Achi Chokyi Drolm prophesied to the sacred master, “Hide the precious prayer wheel in the north at a white rock in the shape of a lion leaping up into the sky.” Following the prophecy of Achi, who knew that this master and the holy object would bring about the vast benefit of beings, he travelled from Pumu to Nangchen. As the sky fortress of the Lion in Nanchen was consistent with the prophecy and because he saw that place was endowed with auspicious signs, he settles there. Thus the Gar Monastery, Sky Fortress of the Lion, was established. Gar Tenzin Phuntsob was appointed the main guru of the king of Nangchen, and from that time onwards every incarnation of Garchen Rinpoche became the main guru of the king of Nangchen.
Kyabgon Shiwe Lodro was the eighth incarnation and together with Mingyur Rinpoche he began to rebuild the monastery from the foundation and they reinstated Gar Monastery again. So far Rinpoche has travelled to thirty-three countries. The name of the current reincarnation is Gar Rinpoche. He travelled around the world and turned the wheel of Dharma for many faithful disciples according to their needs. So far Rinpoche has opened more than twenty dharma centres around the world. In Kham Rinpoche still supports the Drikung monasteries extensively, he has establishes a stable, steadfast and perfectly completed ground by rebuilding the upper and lower monasteries, as well as nunnery: and in addition, he has established a retreat centre, a college and a clinic. He founded schools at five places affiliated with him.
The differentiation of Gar monastery in Nangchen from other monastery is their unique location and its magnificent structure. It is located in the Dza River valley. It is an evergreen forest surrounds the monastery while craggy mountain peaks can be seen all around. A small lake is also located in the valley below the monastery. The area around Gar Monastery provides excellent opportunities for hiking. Tame deer and monkeys can be found around the monastery. The deer are very tame and possible to pet. Monkey is also there and monastery also kept them as a pet. Not to be mention there is different kind of birds chirping in the wood while leading to the monastery. There is peace of mind and animals are running around without the fear of human existence.
If anyone wants to travel Gar Nangchen Monastery then there is no public transportation to the monastery, but you will find plenty of taxis that can take you there. The valley going up to the monastery has a tent hotel during the summer months and that is worth staying at. Gar monastery is a perfect place for nature lovers, photographers and spiritual peace seekers. These tents are comfortable and are set up in a grassy field surrounded by evergreen trees and the Rocky Mountains. If anyone wants to explore Tibet’s remote Tibetan monasteries that offer great hiking and stunning views is highly recommended to visit.
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