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Sakya Monastery

Sakya Monastery, Shigatse

Sakya, meaning 'gray soil', is the first monastery of Sakyapa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Located 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Shigatse, the monastery was divided into Northern Monastery and Southern Monastery. The Northern Monastery was built in 1073 by the founder of the Sakyapa, Khon Konchog Gyalpo. But now, there is nothing left but ruins.

The Southern Monastery was built by the fifth Sakya Throne Holder, Phakpa, in 1268. It is a square castled construction, covering an area of more than 14,700 square meters (about 3.63 acres). As the religious center as well as the political center of Tibet during the reign of Sakyapa Sect, the monastery holds city walls, blockhouses, and even a moat outside the wall. The walls were painted in red, white and grey strips, which represent Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani separately.

The Main Chanting Hall, or Lakhang Chenmo, is the central construction of Sakya Monastery. It is supported by 40 pillars and four bigger ones are most outstanding. It is said that these four pillars were presents from the Yuan Emperor, a wild yak, a male tiger and Nereus. All the stories are clearly depicted by the murals on the wall. The sculptures of Sakyamuni and the fifth Sakya Throne Holder are enshrined in the hall. Stupa-tombs of each Sakya Throne Holders are also situated here. Murals, most of them were painted during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), are still well preserved in the monastery. Besides, about 40 thousands volumes of sutras are collected in the monastery, about half of which are hand-written copies during the Yuan and Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). All these precious culture relics give Sakya Monastery a title: 'the Second Dunhuang'.

Admission Fee: CNY 45

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