Sakya monastery is located at the northern hill of Sakya county in Shigatse prefecture of Tibet autonomous region of China. In year 1023 of Tibetan water ox year, Khon Kunchock Gyalpo, a well learn Buddhist scholar of Nyimapa sect found this location a very auspicious and decide to establish a monastery at the location.

the entrance of Sakya monastery

Skaya literary means a pale earth. When Khunchok decide to establish his monastery at the location, he saw the hill resemble a lying elephant. He brought the land by paying the land owner with his family fortune. Due to the pale color of land, he decide to called his monastery and his school of Tibetan Buddhism as Sakya, which means pale earth.

Skaya monastery is divide into two parts separating by a river of Trom-chu. The monastic complex on the northern hill is known as Jhangma and the monastic complex on the southern plan is known as Lhoma. Travelers are more like to visit the monastic complex on southern plan, if you have less time.

poeple gathered at the central square of the monastery

Sakyapa Pagpa was invited by Mongol Empire of China to teach them Tibetan Buddhism and on return Sakyapa were given privilege to rule the local government of Tibet. During his time of Pagpa, He expand the complex of Southern plan in year 1268. He build a new assemble hall with four big pillar, One of the wood used for the pillar was donated by the Chinese empire himself with the conch shell which is believe to have a capabilities to saving decease relative from hell realm. During the medieval times people has to pay lots of sliver to have the conch blown in the name of their decease relative. The entire complex of south is design defensively.

The main complex on southern Sakya Monastery looks like a medieval fort. It has high wall surrounding the Temple with watch tower on four corner, which is dubbed the great wall of Tibet. The walls are 16 meter high and 3.5 meter thick. While you are inside the complex you will have a different architectural style, which could give travelers an experience of being at a different world. Many books and website define this architecture as an mongol style which i really don’t think.

monk blowing conch shell

In the main assemble hall, travelers may want to observe the pillars, huge drum, you will also see a monk seated on throne behind a pillar on second column from the door, he will have the magical conch shell in his hand, he blows the conch on request after reciting some mantras. On the alter you will see a smoked statue of Buddhistava. Once there was a strong fire in the hall and it is believe that she sucked all the fire in her which is the reason why her body looks darker then others.

There is a passage behind the main altar. if you enter into the passage, you will find a huge collection of scriptures. Those manuscripts were untouched for centuries and the biggest scripture would require 12 healthy grown up men to lift it. There is a small hole on the floor at center right. This hole is linked with a well below the complex and it helps to moisturize the scripture during the dry season.

Travelers may want to walk on the wall surrounding the complex for the better view of entire area and the complex it self.

One eye catching characteristic of the region is the coloring of its buildings. Unlike others, in the region Skaya people paints their house in vertical stripes of ash gray with white, and red. The color symbolize the trinity of Buddhistava (Rig Sum Gonpo) and stands as a mark of Sakya authority.

monks at sakya monastery


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