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Tashilunpo Monastery

Tashilunpo Monastery

Written by Kelly PangUpdated Nov. 17, 2023

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is located on the southern slope of the Nyima Mountain to the west of the Shigatse city. The monastery attracts thousands of Buddhists and tourists from domestic and abroad to travel and worship every year.

  • Chinese: 扎什伦布寺 Zhāshí Lúnbù Sì /jaa-shrr lwnn-boo srr/
  • Location: 5 minutes' drive from central Shigatse
  • History: built in 1447
  • Altitude: 3,500 meters (11,000 feet)
  • Highlights: Largest Maitreya statue in China, Thangka Sunning Festival in summer
  • Time needed: 2 hours; mountain circumambulation needs another 1½ hours.
Tashilhunpo Monastery

History and Background

Tashilunpo Monastery was founded in 1447, and its name means "heap of glory" or "all fortune and happiness gathered here" in Tibetan language.

Ever since its foundation, Tashi Lhunpo has been the traditional seat of successive Panchen Lamas, who are the second highest ranking Tulku lineage in the Gelugpa tradition.

All the Panchen Lamas have managed to expand the monastery gradually over the centuries. Tashi Lhunpo houses plenty of treasured sutra and cultural relics.

Driving on the road far away from Shigatse, from the west city you can see the gold roof of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery shinning under the sunshine. Experiencing five centuries, it still maintains the magnificent vigor.

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery (meaning auspicious) is one of the Six Big Monasteries of Gelugpa (or Yellow Hat Sect) in China and the biggest Tibetan Gelugpa Buddhism monastery in back Tibet area.

Jamba Chyenmu (The Maitreya Temple)

Jamba Chyenmu was erected in 1914, and is the tallest building of Tashi Lhunpo.

The ninth Panchen Lama erected this to house a giant statue of maitreya Buddha, which is the largest of its kind in China.

The statue is 26 meters (85 ft) tall, and contains 279 kilograms (615 lb) of gold and 150,000 kilograms (330693 lb) of brass and copper. More than 100 goldsmiths, coppersmiths, painters and sculptors from Tibet and Nepal joined together in the producing process of this gigantic statue.

Sunning of the Buddha Festival

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Monks at a Tashi Lhunpo Cloister

The Sunning of the Buddha Festival at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is a grand and important festival in Tibet.

It happens every year from 14th to 16th of the fifth month of the Tibetan Calendar (around July and August on the Gregorian calendar). The first day displays the Buddha representing the past, the second day the present, and the third day the future.

During the festival, three Buddhas are displayed, one each day. The Buddhas are actually giant thangkas (tapestries). Tens of thousands of people congregate around the giant Buddhas.

The display platform for sunning the Buddha at Tashi Lhunpo is very unique. It was completely built with rocks in 1468. Standing tall and magnificent on the mountain slope, the giant platform can be seen dozens of kilometers away.

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