Tashilhunpo Monastery - Into the Realm of Fantasy !Tashilhunpo Monastery is located in Shigatse around 250 km away from the capital of Tibet Lhasa. Situated on the foot of Drolmari, the structure is one of the six huge monasteries of Gelugpa in Tibet which was built by 1st Dalai Lama in the year 1447. It stands on a whooping area of around 300,000 sq. m and is also known as a seat of the Panchen Lama who is considered to be the second most important religious leader of Tibet.
What's the Legend Says !The Tashilhunpo Monastery was founded by Gedun Drub who was later named as the first Dalai Lama. He was also the nephew and follower of the legendary Buddhist Philospher Je Tsongkhapa. The massive scale renovation of the monastery was started by the fourth Panchen Lama and was carried on by successive Lamas. In the year 1791, the monastery was attacked and looted by a Nepalese Gurkha warrior who was later ousted by the Chinese who were expanding there power over entire Tibet. When the monastery was at its most active, there were more than 4000 monks and 4 tantric colleges with their own abbot. In 1960, the Chinese attacked the monastery in the absence of the Pachen Lama and gained control over it, though not much destruction was done inside the monastery. In 1972, by the order of the 14th Dalai Lama, the Tashilhunpo Monastery was re-established in Karnataka, the southern state of India. From early1980's, entry to the general public has been allowed, although one cannot visit all the parts of the monastery, but still Tashilhunpo Monastery has become an important tourist destination in Tibet.
What to See and Do !There is too much to see and admire in this magnificent Tashilhunpo Monastery. As you enter the monastery, you will find a wall overlooking the monastery, which was build by the order of the first Dalai Lama in the year 1468. On 14, 15, and 16 May of every year according to the Tibetan calendar, the wall displays images of Lord Buddha. And when looking the monastery, from entry you will see the mighty building with white walls and shining golden roof. Proceed to the West Side of the temple where the Maitreya Chapel holds the biggest statue of a sitting Maitreya Buddha, almost 86 ft in height, well decorated with gold, diamond, pearl and every other rare stone that you can think of. It is spellbinding to know that it is purely handcrafted by around 900 craftsmen and took more than 9 years in its construction. Take the wooden staircase to other higher levels of the Chapel from where you can more clearly see and appreciate the Lord's monolith. The other attraction of the monastery is the Stupa tomb of the tenth Panchen Lama. It lies east of the chapel and is covered with 614 kg of gold and innumerable number of jewels and precious stones.
Near to the stupa there is the Panchen Lama's palace which is still not open to visitors. As move to the east of the palace, you will come across another stupa, this time of the fourth Panchen Lama. This stupa is also completely covered with gold and silver. Apart from these grand palaces and Stupas, also enjoy the uniqueness and resplendence of the paintings that adorn the walls of this monastery.