Pabonka Hermitage is located about eight kilometers north of old Lhasa city. The main original structure of the Pabonka fort was built on a huge stone which looks like a turtle. The design of the structure was curvy wall southern wall and square northern wall. The door is facing towards the north and it has the gradual staircase which is a special Tibetan architect of ancient Tibet. Pabongka Hermitage is one of the earliest building in Lhasa and it predates, Jokhang, Potala Palace.
History of Pabonka Hermitage
The Hermitage was originally built as the fort for Songtsen Gampo, it is said to have nine stories high during its initial structure. During the reign of Songtsen Gampo, he is said to have selected the spot for the Jokhang from the rooftop of Pabongka.
During the lifetime Songsten Gampo. His Nepalese queen Bhrikuti Devi, wants to build a temple for the statue of Buddha, which she brought from Nepal as a dowry. She asks the Han Queen Wencheng to do the astrology calculation about where to build the Temple. In Her calculation, the Queen Wencheng visualize Tibet landscape as a Demoness facing up the sky. Especially the region of Woethang Lake was seen as her heart and water in the lake was seen as the Blood of the Demoness. So as an antidote of the vision the temple has to be built in the location of the lake by filling it up. While build human builds the temple in the daytime the temple was being destroyed by demons in the night. There seek the Wencheng to make a prediction for the solution for disturbance created by the demons, she asks them to build a king’s palace at the Pabongka which is why it is considered as constructed earlier than the Jokhang Temple.
According to other Legendary, Songtsen Gampo was going for the tour from White Palace. While visiting the area, the entourage notices a huge black spot on the hillside. When there reach the spot they found a huge rock which looks like a turtle. The location of the place is so solitude and amazing turtle rock made him decide to build a palace. He then made the made the plan and ask his entourage to build a Palace. There use the special method to bind the wall with the rock, first there curve the rock and build the wall then they pour a boiling liquid Iron on the wall to bind the wall and the rock. Then they build a nine-story building on the rock. The New Palace looks like a building on the back of a huge turtle.
Soon after the completion to the Palace, Thönmi Sambhota returns to India after years of learning Indian scriptures. Songtsan Gampo thank him for coming back and ordered him to go the palace in solitude and coin the Tibetan scripture. Thumi then wrote a six-letter mantra of Avalokitesvara in the new Tibet and hand it to the king as a sign of good will. Kings then order the artisan to carve it on a stone. the stone carved of first ever Tibetan scripture in the Rigsum Lhakang.
For years after the creation of first Tibetan letter, both king and the minister reside at the Pabongka and learn the different types of wisdom. at the same time to the locals and ordinary citizens also learn about the new written language in large scale all over the country. With this new Tibetan scripture, he creates 16 moral principal for the Citizen as a constitution and successfully converts many into the Buddhism. Pabongka has served as a palace until the reign of Trisong Detsen.
During the reign of Trisong Detsen, he invited Guru Padmasambhava and Santarakita from India to spread the understanding of Buddha teachings. He made seven sons from a noble birth to take the wow of monkhood and those are the first monks in Tibetan history. Seven monks, Guru Rinpoche and the king himself are said to have lived at Pabonka and Pabonka is consider as the first monastery in Tibetan history.
Later after the assassination of the king Ralpacan. His younger brother Langdharma rule Tibet. during his rule, there was the complete destruction of Buddhism. Pabonka being the center and starting point for Tibetan Buddhism was destroyed by fire and monks are forced renounce their vows and forced to marry and hunt for a living.
Fifth Dalai Lama commission to rebuild the second floor of present Pabonka. After the peaceful liberation, Pabongka has become a part of Sera monastery and it now serves as a hermit for the Monks of Sera monastery.
The first building you will enter is the Trinity chapel know as Rig-sum-gonpo Chapel in Tibetan. this is where you will see the main relic of the Hermitage and the handwritten Mantra of Avalokitesvara, Om Mani Padme Hum by Thumi Sambhuda is located. there is a statue to Avalokitesvara, Manjusri, and Vajrapa?. The central chapel of Rigsum Gonpo can be date back to the time to Songtsan Gampo.
Read more about Pabonka Hermitage in Lhasa on Wikipedia