Drepung Monastery, the largest monastery in the world in the earlier 20th century. At its peak, when someone visits the monastery during it prayer summons, it would sound 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 foothill of Gambo Utse mountain and above the Dhampa village on the western Lhasa. The monastery is located in the western suburb of Lhasa at five kilometers from Jokhang Temple. The monastery itself gives you an impression of an 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 Tsongkhapa, Jamyang Choge Tashi Palden(1937-1449). It was named the scared adobe Shridhanyakataka of south India (Ancient Time). It has seven different colleges. Local has a legendary tales that once Tsongkhapa was a 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 monks and that’s how is thought this is the point where his teaching would flourish. That is why he asked his famous disciple of build a monastery for him at the spot.
The Drepung monastery is one of the three biggest monasteries in the central Tibet and one of the biggest monastery in Lhasa.
Tourist guide to Drepung monastery
As you walk into the Monastery the first house you will enter is the Gaden Prodrang, 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 into the chamber you will see the magnificent structure of Tibetan architecture. I always tell the group about how the roofs are made. it does not have cement, we boil a bark of the tree and use that soup in making the roof very strong. The worker has to beat the roof until it becomes rock solid.
As you continue the tour, you will go the main assembly hall of the monastery. it is advised for the travelers of go in the Kitchen located on the west side of the hall. In Kitchen, you will see huge utensils, big enough to cook three entire bulls in it. When we were 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 pillars are made of the stone to prevent the fire, the longest pillar is 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 rooftop, you can see the beautiful Lhasa city. There are many courtyards 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. The 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 on 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