Dratang Monastery

Buddhist Monastery in Dratang

This small Sakyapa monastery of 20 monks is of interest mainly to art specialists for its rare murals, which combine Indian (Pala) and inner Asian (Western Xia) styles. Bring a torch to see the murals.

The assembly hall has central statues of Dorje Chang (Vajradhara; with crossed arms) and, to the right, the monastery’s founder, Drapa Ngonshe, who helped establish Tibet's earliest medical canon. Look for the interesting seatlike oracle costume and mirror (left of Dorje Chang) in which the oracle would discern his visions – pilgrims receive a blessing from the ancient rope, sword and knife here. The inner sanctum holds all that remains of the murals, the best of which are on the back (western) wall.

A side protector chapel is accessed by steps outside and to the left of the main entrance. The chapel (whose central image is that of a yak’s head) has a hidden passage at the back that leads to a rooftop chapel and kora. A rooftop protector chapel features some wooden skeletons.