Milarepa Palace Buddhist Temple

Top choice in Gansu

A towering nine-storey layer cake of a temple, the Milarepa Palace is both deeply steeped in mystery and unusual in the Tibetan world as different spiritual leaders from varying sects are worshipped on each floor. The exterior is quite modern, but the interior conveys a seasoned, creaky and musty sense of age coupled with a powerful sense of devotion from the worshippers who flock here and prostrate themselves at the main gate. A taxi here costs ¥2 to ¥3 from the main bus station.

The Milarepa's ground floor is a powerful spectacle: a galaxy of Bodhisattvas, Buddhist statues and yak-butter lamps illuminating celestial figures. Climb upstairs to a further rich display of lamas and living Buddhas. More deities muster on the 4th floor and an unsettling array of fearsome, turquoise tantric effigies awaits on the 6th floor. The 8th floor houses effigies of Sakyamuni and Guanyin, with views over the hills and town.

If the weather obliges with blue skies, the temple makes for a superb photo-op, especially with Tibetan pilgrims circling the outside wall. The town’s main monastery, Tso Gompa, is next door, with its various stupas and halls, some of which you may find open.

You can find the temple about 2km from the bus station along the main road towards Xiahe.

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