Tashi Lhunpo monastery is one of the four main monasteries of Gelugpa Monastery in central Tibet, other include Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, and Gaden Monastery. The first Dalia Lama Gendun Dup founded the monastery in the year 1447. The full name of the Monastery is Tashi Lhunpo Palkyi Dechen Choklay Nampa Gyalwei Ling. The main sponsor in building the monastery was that time governor called Chong-Gyalpo Hor Paljor Zangpo. This name means the heap of glory to signify all the fortune and happiness are gathered in the monastery.
Initially, there were about six thousand monks in the monastery and three colleges. Later during the fourth Panchen Lama Lobsang Choeki Gyaltsen, he creates the fourth college and ever since the monastery has four colleges. the colleges are; Thoe-sam Ling, Kyil-kang, Shartse and Gyulgpa colleges. The monastery was present to fourth Panchen Lama by fifth Dalai Lama. ever since the Monastery has been the seat for the successive Panchen Lamas. Later in the year 1713 Emperor Kangxi of Qing Emperor, send the envoys to confer the title Panchen Erdine, golden book and goldenseal to the fifth Panchen Lama along with fifth Dalai Lama.
The Sixth Panchen Lama was the half elder brother of Ninth Shamarpa. Sixth Panchen Lama dies from smallpox in Beijing. His younger brother Shamarpa became Shigatse’s acting regent, thinking he would inherit some of the riches of Sixth Panchen. When this didn’t eventuate, he conspired with King of Nepal Badamaharajdhiraj Prithvi Narayan Shah and brought Nepalese force into Tibet in the year 1788. The Nepalese invading force made a huge destruction to the Tashi Lhunpo monastery. To smash this invading force out of Tibet, the Manchu emperor from central has sent troops to Tibet. Chinese troop defeated Nepalese. The tenth Shamarpa poisoned himself to Death. Gurkha return the looted wealth of the monastery.
At present the monastery is a biggest functional monastery in Tibet Autonomous Region with more than eight hundred monks, it has four colleges and four Chapels. Here are the details of the chapels;
1) The first chapel is called Jamkhang chemo and it houses the biggest statue bronze and copper alloy statue of Gyalwa Jampa (the future Buddha). The statue is the biggest in China.
2) The second chapel is known Namgyal Lhakang, the chapel is especially for Tsongkhapa.
3) Sisum Namgyal chapel, this chapel house the pagoda tomb of tenth Panchen Lama who has achieved Parinirvana (pass away) in the year 1989. The wall murals of Kalachakra mandala and the Buddha paint in gold are amazing to see.
4) The fourth chapel of the Tashi Lhunpo monastery house the pagoda tomb of 4th Panchen Lama. The courtyard below the 4th chapel is used as debate venue and the throne covered in yellow cloth is the seat of Panchen Lama where he uses to watch the debates among monks. During the fourth month of Tibetan calendar (know as Saga-Dawa), the monastery will display huge Buddha Thangka for three days on the huge white wall behind the monastery. During the display time, people from all over Tibet come for the Thanka’s audience.
As you walk through the main gate you can easily find four chapels stand tall among the clusters of Houses. you can also figure out two white spots on the hill behind the monastery. According to Locals of the towns, the monastery is situated in the lap of the hill which resembles the statue of Tara. The two white spot marks the nipples of Tara, and the monastery is said as located on the lap of Tara.