Gyüme was founded in the mid-15th century as one of Tibet’s foremost Tantric training colleges, second only in Lhasa to the monasteries of Sera and Drepung. More than 500 monks were once in residence, and students of the college underwent a physically and intellectually gruelling course of study. It’s easy to miss the surprisingly impressive temple; look for an imposing entrance set back from Beijing Donglu.
The main dukhang (assembly hall) has statues of Tsongkhapa, Chenresig and Sakyamuni and was under renovation in 2018. Look for the monks’ alms bowls, encased in crafted leather, hanging from the pillars. Behind are huge two-storey statues of Tsongkhapa and his two main disciples, and next door is a fearsome statue of Dorje Jigje (Yamantaka). Upstairs is a famous speaking rock image of Drölma and views down on the two-story statues below. The college was desecrated during the Cultural Revolution, but a growing number of monks are now in residence.