Drepung Monastery, the largest monastery in the world in earlier 20th century, It has so much spiritual and political power that influence the decision of the Local government of Tibet before peaceful liberation. At its peak, when some one visit the monastery during it prayer summons, it would sounds like a humming of millions of honey bees. Drepung is also the official monastery for the successive Dalai Lamas from forth Dalai Lama.
Drepung means the heap of rice. The monastery is located at the foot hill of Gambo Utse mountain and above the Dhampa village on the western Lhasa. The monastery is located at the western suburb of Lhasa at five kilometers from Jokhang Temple. The monastery it self gives you an impression of entire city. it has the maximum number 10,000 monks on its peak time.
History of the Drepung monastery
The Drepung monastery was founded by the famous disciples of Tsongkhapas, Jamyang Choge Tashi Palden(1937-1449). It was name the scared adobe Shridhanyakataka of south India. it has a seven different colleges. Local has a legendary tales that once TsongKhapa is very week after the very long meditation, on his way he visualized a heap of Rice in the valley where the Drepung is currently located. Then he visualized the every single rice convert into a monks and that’s how is thought this is the point where his Dharma would flourish. That is why he ask his famous disciple of build a monastery for him at the spot.
There are two main chamber, the lower chamber is built by Dalai Lama and the upper chamber built by Panchen Sonam darkpa. There is no status of being upper or lower in the authority. The upper chamber is located upper side of the slope and lower chamber is located at the lower slope. But there was a hostile situation among two chamber which ultimately lead to the controversy of Dorje Shugden. i would prefer not be judgmental about the controversy that’s why i would not write about it at all.
Tourist guide to Drepung monastery
As you walk into the Monastery the first house you will enter is the Gaden Prodrang, this is the lower chamber. built by second Dalai Lama and from this place Fifth Dalai Lama has ruled the Tibet until the renovation of Potala Palace was completed. As you walk in to the chamber you will see the magnificent structure of Tibetan architecture. I always tells the group about how the roofs are made. its does not have cement, we boil a bark of tree and use the water in making the roof very strong. worker has to beat the roof until it becomes rock solid.
AS you continue the tour, you will go the main assemble hall of the monastery. it is advise for the travelers of go in the Kitchen located on the west side of the hall. In Kitchen you will see a huge utensils, big enough to cook three entire bulls in it. when we are children our elders used to scare us, if you are not listening to our parent the wrathful deity of the monastery would cook us in it. And we actually think its true. Another special point of interest would be the stone pillars in the kitchen. the pillar are made of the stone to prevent the fire, the longest pillar is a the high of three store modern building.
The aim assemble hall is massive and it has a huge statue of Metirya, who is a future Buddha. from the roof top you can see the beautiful Lhasa city. there are many courtyard in which your guide might not take you in. But can ask the guide to give you some time to explore the remaining part of the monastery. For me i always ask the clients if there need some time to explore the monastery on their own. i would give them the spot to meet and the time. this gives a great opportunity for the clients to explore and understand the culture and architecture of the monastery. Client can also use the opportunity to take a great picture of the locals and monks.
remember do not forget to visit Nachung Monastery below the Drepung monastery near the gate. this is a great monastery that many travelers miss out.
If you are keen in hiking and active tour, you can do two days hiking tour from drepung monastery to Gepel Utse. click here to read about this hiking route