Ganden Monastery was the first Gelugpa monastery and has been the main seat of this major Buddhist order ever since. If you only have time for one monastery excursion outside Lhasa, Ganden – 60 km from the city – is the best choice. With its stupendous views of the surrounding Kyi-chu Valley and its fascinating kora (pilgrim circuit), Ganden makes for an experience unlike those at the other major Gelugpa monasteries in the Lhasa area.
Ganden means ‘joyous’ in Tibetan and is the name of the Western Paradise (also known as Tushita) that is home to Jampa, the Future Buddha. There is a certain irony in this because, of all the great monasteries of Tibet, Ganden suffered most at the hands of the Red Guards, possibly because of its political influence.
Ganden is also the start of the popular wilderness trek to Samye Monastery.