From C to C Journey through Asia travel blog


This morning we went to the Drepung Monastery. Aafter going through security there was an elderly ethnic lady that asked the guide if we would give her a ride up the hill. We of course agreed to do it.

This is the largest and richest monastery in Tibet. It was founded in 1416 by Tsong Khapa under the patronage of the noble family and enlarged by the 5th Dalai Lama.

Drepung means rice heap. It covers a floor space of 200 thousand square meters. It was an eduction center which housed 10,000 monks at one time, now there are about 400. We climbed several levels again.

An interesting sight here was artwork done with molded yak butter. Th butter is died and worked with cold hands. It was so intricate. Painting of faces and details was amazing.

At one area a monk asked our guide if we were From America. When we said yes he gave a thumbs up and said America is number one.

We met another monk on our way out and he chatted for a long time with the guide and asked some questions.

He has a friend in the US and said that maybe in his next life he will come back in America.

We saw a yak up close on the road leaving the monastery.

Our next stop was Norbulingka, the Summer Palace. The name means Jeweled Garden. It was started by the 6th Dalai Lama and added to by each of the Dalai Lamas to the present number 14 Dalai Lama.

We visited the original palace, the area o the 8th Dalai Lama and the one for the present Dalai Lama. The last was built between 1964 and 1956. He lived in it until he had to leave Tibet in 1959. The present Dalai Lama's area is the first western bathroom.

There are more than 370 rooms as there are several buildings for the Dalai Lama's family to live.

The area is used as a park. It is built near a medicinal spring. The Dalai Lama had it built here because he had been sick and came to the spring and was healed.

For lunch we had Yak Momo. A dumpling filled with yak meat and fried. It was good but not as good as what we ate yesterday.

After lunch we went to the Sera Monastery located at the foot of Tatipu Hill. Although there is a party of the monastery very near the top which is accessed only on foot. It is the second largest monastery. It ow houses about 300 monks but over a thousand in the past. It was built in 1419. There is an assembly hall, 3 colleges and 33 houses. It is dedicated to the Yellow Sect. There are 4 sects; red (once the most popular), yellow ( now the most popular), white, and multicolored ( monks in this sect can marry and the master's son becomes the next master),

The name means wild rose and was named for the hill behind covered with wild roses while it was being built.

This is the first place people will bring their babies to get blessed by the monk. The only places a black mark which is yak butter on the child's nose. We saw many children with the mark. Guo Guo says you can bring your child as frequently as you want.

During festival time, like the yogurt festival, the monks due intricate sand paintings on the floor of the monastery. After 15 days the just sweep it away. They have 3 preserved under glass so people can see what they look like! Amazing work.

We went to the book store where the monks can buy books with the Buddhist teachings. They also have wooden print blocks for printing on paper in the original form as those that are stored. The originals are often printed with gold ink and stored in special containers at the monasteries. The first word is in Sanskrit, the rest in Tibetan.

The highlight here was the Debating Court. To practice for testing groups of monks will meet here for 2 hours and debate Buddhist doctrines. Today happened to be a testing day.

There were many many monks here. They sit on cushions inside the courtyard. First there is a lot of praying/chanting. Next they are served butter tea. Then 2 monks went to the front, put on robes and the yellow caps as it is the yellow sect. Other monks than asked them questions. They would clap their hands when they wanted an answer. The monks being tested could often times seen laughing! There was an elderly monk near the them that determined whether the answer was correct.

In the past boys as young as 5 or 6 became monks, now the government says they must be at least 16. Because they are teenagers and had lots of experiences there are not as many boys becoming monks.

Burial practice of Tibetans depends on your position. Dalai Lama's bodies are buried in tombs. Monks are cremated and ashes put in a tomb. The common people are kept at home for 3 days and then taken to the top of a mountain where the caretaker cuts them up and feeds the parts to the eagles. If babies died they are cut up and put in the river. Because of this practice Tibetans do not eat fish.

There were many well fed dogs at the monasteries today. In fact we have seen many dogs in Tibet. They consider them as part of the circle of life so will take care of them and not harm them. They do not eat dog like the Chinese do.

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