Pabonka Hermitage is one of the most ancient Buddhist sites in Tibet. Pabonka Hermitage is an ancient retreat founded in the 7th century by Songtsän Gampo who is reputed to be the founder of the Tibetan Empire. Pabonka means “on top of a giant rock” in the Tibetan language and, given its situation on Mount Parasol, is quite fitting.
Pabonka Hermitage is the starting point for the “Sixth-Month Fourth-Day” (Drug pa tshe bzhi) of the Sera Mountain Circumambulation Circuit (Se ra’i ri ’khor) pilgrimage. It is said that Pabonka was built even earlier than the Potala Palace and Jokhang Monastery. Several famous Tibetan kings and monks meditated here and Pabonka is said to be the birthplace of the Tibetan Alphabet.
Over the many years of its history, Pabonka has undergone many attacks. When the Dalai Lama took asylum in India, many of the remaining monks moved to Mysore, India, establishing a parallel Sera Monastery with more than 3,000 monks.
The former glory of the high-rise palace no longer exists and Pabonka has become a temple of mid-level importance as there only remains a few buildings plus a three-story structure standing on the rock.
Pabonka Hermitage also serves as a base for travelers seeking a further adventure as it is only a one and a half hour hike from Pabonka Hermitage to the Sera Monastery. This walk has often been referred to as "a sun-filled, energizing hike leading to the lively monk debates outside of the city". Additional hikes can also be taken to the Tashi Choling Hermitage (about 30 minutes) and the Chupsang Nunnery (about one hour).
Part of Sera Monastery, Pabonka Hermitage is located 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of central Lhasa in the Nyang Bran Valley on the side of Mount Parasol. There’s a good road up to it with ample parking.
See our Tibet Impression Tours for great ways to visit Lhasa and Tibet. Customize your China tour with us and see Lhasa the way you want. We provide a high-quality local guide and private transport to get you to, and to get the most out of, places like Pabonka Hermitage.