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About 5km north of Lhasa, Sera was founded in 1419 by a disciple of Tsongkhapa as one of Lhasa's two great Gelugpa monasteries. About 600 monks are now in residence, down from an original population of around 5000. The half-dozen main colleges feature spectacular prayer halls and chapels. Equally interesting is the monk debating that takes place from 3pm to 5pm in a garden near the assembly hall. Don't miss the fine, hour-long kora (pilgrim circuit) around the exterior of the monastery.
From Sera Monastery it's possible to take a taxi northwest for a couple of kilometres to little-visited Pabonka Monastery. Built in the 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo, this is one of the most ancient Buddhist sites in the Lhasa region.
A taxi to Sera costs around ¥20 from the old town.