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Sakya Monastery

Time:30-12-2019 This Article is Composed by BudgetTibetTour

The immense, grey, thick-walled southern monastery is one of Tibet’s most impressive constructed sights, and one of the largest monasteries. Established in 13th century, it was designed defensively, with watchtowers on each corner of its high walls. Inside, the dimly lit hall exudes a sanctity and is on a scale that few others can rival. As usual, morning is the best time to visit as more chapels are open.

The turn-off to Sakya is on the left, it’s about 128 kilometers west of Shigatse. And it is about 25 kilometers off the Friendship Highway. Just 5 kilometers before Sakya at Chonkhor Lhunpo village is the Ogyen Lhakhang, where local farmers go to get blessings from relics said to be able prevent hailstorms.

Four buildings of the 13th century Southern Monastery remain, protected by massive, windowless, fortress walls with corner towers - a typical Mongolian feature. Narthang Monastery and, after being devastated by an earthquake, Shalu were built along the same lines as Sakya. The grey and murky maroon hue of the outer wall appears drab, but these two colors are favoured throughout the region, painted in stripes on village walls, and the colors have a peculiarly powerful aesthetic impact.

Enter the monastery through the east gateway, which leads to huge open courtyard. The first room to see is on the left, up a steep flight of stairs, after reaching the inner courtyard through an enclosed walkway. This is the Phuntsok Podrang, which has stupas that honour the relics of former Sakya lamas, and a giant image of Kunga Nyingpo as a venerable old man. He was a master scholar of Sakya’s great period, equal in learning to Sakya Pandit. He organized a systematic teaching of the tantras, and is always portrayed as aged with white hair.

Sakya Monastery

The next chapel, on the inner courtyard’s south side, is the Pukhang, or Manjushiri Chapel. An enclosed mandala is the centrepiece, backed by two main images, a Jowo Sakyamuni to the left and Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, to the right. It is said that Sakya Pandit created these statues. Multiple volumes that make up the Kanjur and Tenjur are here, as are thousands of small statues.

The main chanting hall is wider than it is deep, with columns made from whole tree trunks. Daylight entering from high windows illuminates a fine frieze of Buddhas, saints, guardians and Mongolian hierarchs, embellished by lion decorations, near the ceiling above the altar. Everything in the room is big and gilded brass figures placed high on the pillars and walls increase the sense of space.

The two primary human figures, side by side, are Sakya Pandit and Jungu Choje, Sakya Pandit wears a red hat. A statue of Kunga Nyingpo is raised and to the right of these two. In front of the altar are some of Sakya’s treasures - artifacts of silver, porcelain, ivory and shell. Jewelled stupas holding the ashes of the founders also indicate its former wealth. The resplendent chanting hall is among the finest, most impressive in all Tibet. Take time to look carefully and investigate the many objects - ancient, refined, outlandish, beautiful, weird.

Sakya Monastery

The north hall contains seven large stupas and four lesser ones, the reliquaries of the Throne Holders of the Sakya sect. Restored murals show the family of five Buddhas, a giant portrait of Kunga Nyingpo and big, bold mandalas. It is rare to see a portrait mural of these dimensions in Tibet. A mandala of colored sand is kept permanently in a corner of the hall. An inner chapel houses six large white stupas containing the remains of Sakya’s early abbots.

The final room to visit is the Droma Padrang, up a flight of stairs at the northeast corner of the inner courtyard. Here are excellent murals and a statue of Guru Rinpoche. Five stupas of fine construction also stand in this worthy chapel.

Travelers' Questions Might Help

The questions raised by our past customers can help you get a more clear picture about tours to Tibet, read them or tell us your own questions please contract us, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.

Mr. Ju*** from: 4 Days Lhasa Holy Landmarks Express
January 07, 2020 08:25

Hi, I plan to arrive in Lhasa on the 9th of March in 2020 by train and would like to do a 4 day tour. Unfortunately there are no tours scheduled between January and April, will there be tours added or are there not any planned?

Kind regards

Julian Franz

Answered by Helen
January 07, 2020 07:14

Hello Mr. Ju***,

    Thanks very much for your inquiry. We currently have no group tour in February and March, if you would like to travel Tibet in these months, we are able to arrange a private tour for you. While there are several confirmed departure date for the group tour in January and April, if your time is flexible, you may consider joining a group tour in April. I will send detailed itinerary to your email, please check it. Warm regards.

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