Drepung Monastery

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Drepung Monastery (literally "Rice Heap" monastery), located at the foot of Mount Gephel, is one of the "great three" Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet. The other two are Ganden and Sera.

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Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery

Drepung is the largest of all Tibetan monasteries and is located on the Gambo Utse mountain, five kilometers from the western suburb of Lhasa. Freddie Spencer Chapman reported, after his 1936-37 trip to Tibet, that Drepung was at that time the largest monastery in the world, and housed 7,700 monks, "but sometimes as many as 10,000 monks."

Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery

Since the 1950s, Drepung Monastery, along with its peers Ganden and Sera, have lost much of their independence and spiritual credibility in the eyes of Tibetans since they operate under the close watch of the Chinese security services. All three were reestablished in exile in the 1950s in Karnataka state in south India. Drepung and Ganden are in Mundgod and Sera is in Bylakuppe.

Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery

Situated at the foot of the Mountain Gambo Utse, 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from the western suburb of Lhasa, the Drepung Monastery is known as the most important monastery of Gelugpa in Tibetan Buddhism. It is considered one of the 'Three Great Monasteries' (the other two are the Ganden Monastery and the Sera Monastery. Covering an area of 250,000 square meters (299,007 square yards), it held 7,700 monks in total and possessed 141 fazendas and 540 pastures in its heyday, and is the largest-scale monastery among the ones of the same kind. Seen from afar, its grand, white construction gives the appearance of a heap of rice. As such, it was given the name 'Drepung', which, in the Tibetan language, means 'Collecting Rice.

Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery

Drepung Monastery lies five kilometers west of Lhasa city under Mount Gambo Utse. Surrounded by the dark faces of mountains, its grand white buildings stand out shining in the sunlight. If taking bus 3, 301 or 3O2, you will have to walk a long way from the bus stop to the gate of the monastery. A 20 yuan taxi ride will bring you right to the gate.

Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery

The Fifth Dalai Lama enlarged Drepung and ruled there while the Potala was being built. This magnificent monastery was developed to an enormous scale, resembling a huge walled city. From its roofs, one can enjoy a scenic view of Lhasa City.

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