Ganden Monastery is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. It is nestled into the slopes of Wangbur Mountain, at 4,300 meters above sea level, and with a stunning view over the southern bank of the Lhasa River. Together with Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery, Ganden Monastery is part of the three great university temples of Tibet. This cultural and religious significance began early in the 15th century, when the leader of the Yellow Hat Sect, Tsongkhapa, was calling for a reformation of religion. His ideas were so popular, that the Yellow Hats became the biggest and most influential religious group in Tibet and Ganden was established as the sect’s main temple.
In total, the monastery consist of over 50 buildings painted in blocks of white, maroon and ochre and topped with gold-capped roofs. Chituokhan Buddhist Temple is one of the earliest buildings within Ganden Monastery and is the location where Tsongkhapa and other abbots of the monastery lived. Another highlight is Tsokchen Hall, the monastery’s main assembly hall that can house 3500 monks and is decorated with over a hundred pillars and skillfully carved bronze statues. The tomb of Tsongkhapa, or rather what is left of it after China’s cultural revolution, can be found at Serdung.
Ganden Monastery is located in Dagzê County, about 40 kilometers northeast of Lhasa. Opening hours are from 9am to 4pm, and while you only need a few hours to see the temple, the distance from Lhasa makes a visit to Ganden Monastery a day trip. Busses leave from Jokhang Temple in Lhasa starting at 7am.