Thangkas highlighted by ray of light, Assembly Hall, Ganden Monastery.

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Ganden Monastery


About 50km east of Lhasa, this monastery, founded in 1417 by Tsongkhapa, was the first Gelugpa monastery. Still the order's heart and soul, it's the one out-of-Lhasa sight to choose if your time is limited. Two koras (pilgrim circuits) offer astounding views over the braided Kyi-chu Valley and you'll probably meet more pilgrims here than anywhere else. Some 400 monks now study in Ganden, and extensive reconstruction has been under way for some time now, alongside a strong police presence.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lhasa attractions

1. Ngam Chö Khang


The first chapel you reach from the monastery's parking area is Ngam Chö Khang, one of Ganden's oldest. It is built on the site of Tsongkhapa’s original…

2. Debating Courtyard

1.72 MILES

Southeast of the Gomde Khang residence is this debating courtyard. You should be able to hear the clapping of hands as you pass if there is a debate in…

3. Gomde Khang

1.74 MILES

One of the monastery's recently renovated minor residences, this building can be missed if you are running short of time.

4. Shartse Tratsang

1.75 MILES

Shartse Tratsang is one of several renovated kangtsang (residences) that offer the opportunity to meet the local monks away from the tourist trail. In the…

5. Nyare Kangtsang

1.75 MILES

Below the main assembly hall, the rather innocuous-looking Nyare Kangtsang houses a controversial statue of the deity Dorje Shugden, worship of which has…

6. Barkhang

1.76 MILES

This interesting chapel houses the monastery printing press. You can see the printing and assembling of Buddhist texts here.

7. Assembly Hall

1.77 MILES

The recently renovated tsogchen (assembly hall) has statues of the 16 arhats (literally ‘worthy ones’) and two huge statues of Tsongkhapa (only visible…