drepung monastery

Deprung is old. Very old. 500 years old! Located at the foot of Mount Gephel, Drepung one of the “great three” Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet.

It was also home to the Dalai Lamas until Portola Palace was built by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama. It was known for the high standards of its academic study, and was called the Nalanda of Tibet (a reference to the great Buddhist monastic university of India).

drepung monestary (1)Today the population at the monastery in Lhasa is about 300 monks, due to population capping enforced by the Chinese government. However, during our visit (in 2006) we were told it was once as high as 10,000. As the Dalai Lama resides in exile, so does Drepung. It has exile campuses in South India on land given to the Tibetan community in exile by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The monastery in India today houses over 5,000 celibate monks, with around 3,000 at Drepung Loseling and some 2,000 at Drepung Gomang. Hundreds of new monks are admitted each year, many of them refugees from Tibet.

Drepung monastery was shut by Chinese authorities on 14 March 2008, after monk-led protests against Chinese rule turned violent and businesses, shops and vehicles were looted and torched. The People’s Republic of China claims that 22 people were killed in the riots but Tibetan sources put the figure much higher. The monastery reopened 2013 after being shut for five years.

photo location Drepung Monastery, Tibet
Copyright Kate McKenna. All Rights Reserved

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