index > Special Reports > White hadas to you Grand Celebration on 50th Anniversary of Tibet Autonomous Region's Establishment > Tourism

A telling taste of Tibetan temples

By Source:Chinaculture.org 2015-07-31

The Reverent: 

Jokhang Temple 

Wonder to Witness: The Jowo Rinpoche, a sacred image of the Buddha. It is the holiest object in Tibet.


Jokhang Temple in Lhasa is the holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism, attracting crowds of prostrating Tibetan pilgrims and curious tourists every year. It hosts the annual Great Prayer Festival, as well as all ceremonies of initiation for the Dalai and Panchen Lamas.  Jokhang Temple was founded in 647 by King Songtsen Gampo, the first ruler of a unified Tibet, and his two of his wives who are credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet. The temple was constructed to house a sacred image of the Buddha, the Jowo Rinpoche, which Queen Wengcheng brought with her from Tang Dynasty as a dowry. This statue is still enshrined within the temple and is the holiest object in Tibet.  Jokhang's interior is a dark and atmospheric labyrinth of chapels dedicated to various gods and bodhisattvas, illuminated by votive candles and thick with the smoke of incense. Although some of the temple has been rebuilt, original elements remain: the wooden beams and rafters have been shown by carbon dating to be original; the Newari door frames, columns and finials date from the 7th and 8th centuries.

The Prestigious:  

Drepung Monastery 

Wonder to Witness: The unfolding of the giant Buddha painting in the Shoton Festival.


The Drepung Monastery is known as the most prestigious monastery of Gelugpa in Tibetan Buddhism. It is considered one of the 'Three Great Monasteries' and also the most important one. The other two are the Ganden Monastery and the Sera Monastery. Covering an area of 250,000 square meters, it housed as many as 10,000 monks in its heyday, and is the largest of all Tibetan monasteries.  With the support of plutocrats, it developed as the richest monastery of Gelugpa and became the mother temple of Dalai Lamas. It is the very place that the second, third, and the fourth Dalai Lama held the Sitting-in-Bed Ceremony, as well as the residence of the fifth Dalai before his nomination by the government of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911).

Shoton Festival is the most spectacular festival for Drepung Monastery. On June 30th of the Tibetan calendar, thousands of Tibetan Buddhist followers, pilgrims and travelers gather on the mountain of Gambo Utse for the celebration of the Festival. Monks of the monastery hang a giant veiled Sakyamuni Thangka of 20 meters (66 feet) in width and 30 meters (98 feet) in height on the mountain. When the first morning glow appears, the Thangka begins to be unveiled slowly and gently. Tibetan people will then rush to contribute numerous Hada to the Buddha, as well as worshipping the Buddha by touching Thangka using their hands, foreheads and bodies. Everyone will be bathing in a sacred and devout atmosphere. Last year, more than 200,000 people participated in the festival, which breaks the record of 180,000 set in 2009.

The Riveting:  

Sera Monastery  

Wonder to Witness: Monks debating Buddhist doctrines in public.


Sera means wild rose in the Tibetan language. The origin of the name 'Sera' is attributed to the fact that the site on which the monastery was built was surrounded by wild roses in bloom. One of the most interesting times to visit the monastery is in the afternoon when monks, after finishing their morning scripture classes, can be seen debating in the courtyard.

According to the local tradition, lamas must participate in debates to further their comprehension and proceed to more advanced levels of study. The debate usually lasts about one hour and a half. In a battle of words, they supplement their efforts by using a variety of gestures including clapping their hands, pushing their partners for an answer, or plucking their prayer beads to win the virtue of the Buddha.

Travel News
Cultural News