Skip to content
Site Tools
Increase font size Decrease font size Default font size default color blue color green color
Home Travel in Tibet Magic Tibet Ⅴ-- Gandan Monastery
Magic Tibet Ⅴ-- Gandan Monastery
Travel in Tibet

 Gandan Monastery
Gandan Monastery (gān dān sì 甘丹寺) is the most special temple of the six Gelug Sect (gé lǔ pài 格鲁派) temples. In the past, there were nearly 4,000 monks in Gandan Monastery. Although it was almost completely demolished during the Cultural Revolution (wén huà dà gé mìng 文化大革命) and nearly all buildings were reconstructed later, the cultural relics have lost more or less. If you are interested in Tibetan Buddhism, here is a choice you can’t miss.

Wangpori MountainGandan Monastery located on the top of Wangpori Mountain (wàng bō rì shān 旺波日山) witch is 3,800m high on the south bank of Lhasa (lā sà 拉萨) in Dazi (dá zī 达孜). It was built in Ming Dynasty (míng cháo 明朝)(1409) by Tsongkhapa (zōng kē bā 宗喀巴), who was the founder of the Gelug Sect. It was known as the first temple of Gelug Sect. Gandan was translated from Tibetan language means the land controlled by Maitreya. In 1733, it was named Yongshou Temple (yǒng shòu sì 永寿寺) by Yongzheng (yōng zhèng 雍正)—the Emperor of Qing Dynasty (qīng cháo 清朝).

Gandan contains many temples and other buildings. One of the buildings has 108 pillars witch is large enough to hold 3500 monks. Gandan has many beautiful and skillfully carved bronze statues of Maitreya and Tsongkhapa. The throne of Tsongkhapa and his collection of Tibetan status can also be found there. Chituokhan Buddhist Temple (chì duō kāng 赤多康) is one of the earliest buildings of Gandan where Tsongkhapa and successive Gandan abbots lived. During the 18th Century, the 7th Dalai Lama (dá lài lǎ mā 达赖喇嘛) added an ornate golden pinnacle to the building. There are also many Buddhist Sutras, ancient codes and other personal belongings of Tsongkhapa.

Yangbajian HallYanbajian Hall (yáng bā jiān shén diàn 阳巴坚神殿) is a large four-storey building with 72 pillars. The building started to be built in 1409 and finished in 1416. A golden pinnacle was added to the hall in 1610 by the 4th Banchan Lama (bān chán 班禅). The back wall of the hall has a huge stone. It's said that the stone flied from Yangbajian in India, that’s what the hall is called 'Yangbajian'. Inside the hall is a suit of armor belonging to Chinese Emperor Qianlong (qián lóng 乾隆), who presented it to Gandan in 1757. It is one of Gandan' s highly-prized treasures. The suit bears an inscription, written in Han (hàn 汉), Man (mǎn 满), Mongol (méng 蒙) and Tibetan (zàng 藏), showing the Qing Emperor’s respect of the Buddha.

Shidoukhan Palace (sī dōng kāng 司东康) is next to Yangbajian. It was built by Tsongkhapa's student in 1420. The silver pagoda inside the palace was built to hold Tsongkhapa’s body after his death. Later, the 13th Dalai Lama rebuilt the pagoda in gold. After that, every responsible person of Gandan built silver pagodas after their death. There were 95 silver pagodas before liberation.

Luohan TangkaGandan Monastery has variety of precious historical relics. For example, the armor given by Emperor Qianlong, which was bordered by gold, silver, many kinds of jewelry and characters written in Han, Man, Mongol and Tibetan; Golden Buddhist Ganzhuer (gān zhū ěr 甘珠尔); 24 Luohan Tangka (luó hàn táng kǎ 罗汉唐卡). They all show the relationship between the centre government and Tibet during Ming and Qing Dynasty. The Tangka will be shown for 3 weeks every year, so that it firms an annual festival.

Gandan Monastery was severely damaged during the 'Cultural Revolution', old buildings were demolished, a large number of cultural relics inside were robbed. The pagoda of Tsongkhapa was also destroyed and it is said that the third biggest diamond on the pagoda was stolen, too. So the people around Gandan hate local people in Gandan, they said people who took apart Gandan Monastery wouldn’t be rich again.


Admission: RMB 45
Opening time: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Gandan Monastery