Gandon and Samye Monasteries

2007/08 Asia Trip Itinerary | Home Page 2 of 2 | Page Up
Ganden Monastery
 Situated at the top of Wangbur Mountain, 36 scenic kilometres from Lhasa.   Ganden is one of the 'great three' Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet, the other two are Sera and Drepung Seeing it from the winding road it was hard to imagine that it was bombed and shelled to the point of destruction during the 'Cultural' Revolution.   Somewhat belatedly it is now listed as a Tibetan cultural relic and as such is under the protection of the state which provided the money for its reconstruction

Extremely hard working nuns still manage to smile as they heave their heavy loads up to the kitchens
Meanwhile the monks seem to have a much easier time, and are quite rapacious, those sitting in the chapel on the right changed their religious chant to
'money money money' at our approach.  Something I rather wish our guide had kept to himself

The present Dalai Lama took his final degree here in 1958.  Just one year before it was completely destroyed during the 'rebellion'           

Intricate mandala fashioned with coloured rice  Cardinal temple guardians
Roof detail

Pilgrims from Amdo

Wearing his padded apron to protect his legs and wooden hand blocks this pilgrim was making his way to Lhasa one body length at a time

He stood with clasped hands,  touched his forehead, mouth and chest  (representing the mind, speech and body, before lying flat on the road with his arm outstretched towards the Holy City

Large trucks like the one disappearing around the corner narrowly missed him

It is traditional to make a series of 180 prostrations a day but these pilgrims can be on the road for many months sometimes even years and execute considerably more

Samye Monastery
We drove for two hours to reach the Brahmaputra ferry, spent one hour on the boat and 30 minutes in an old 4 wheel drive to finally arrive at Samye. The first Buddhist monastery built in Tibet and the first we see nestled in a valley
The buildings are laid out in the form of a giant mandala with the central six story temple representing Mount Meru


There are four modern chortens at the cardinal points, black, white red and green,  with the "all seeing eyes" of the Buddha.


Nine monks from Samye were arrested and imprisoned in March 2008 for taking part in a protest alongside hundreds of Tibetans demanding religious freedom

The layout of the huge monastery complex forms a giant mandala, a representation of the Buddhist universe

The main temple


Herdsmen of the grasslands need clothes that are comfortable and warm.  This delightful 75 year old pilgrim happily models  his chuba  which will keep him warm during the day yet allow freedom of movement.  It can be shrugged off his shoulder to adjust his body temperature when the sun is at its height and act as a blanket at night  His  pulu (Tibetan wool) boots, have thick soles made from cow hide.  The upper and leg  of the boots are made of different colors of pulu, with traditional patterns embroidered on them

This family from Amdo were somewhat reluctant to be photographed but our elderly gentleman was having so much fun it was contagious.  Samye is a wonderful monastery but will remain in my memory as the one where I met this charming family of pilgrims


Look who was on our ferry back,   modelling his last outfit of the day, the life jacket

2007/08 Asia Trip Itinerary | Home Page 2 of 2 | Page Up