Drigung Til Monastery

Top choice in Ü

Drigung Til sprouts from a high, steep ridge overlooking the Zhorong-chu Valley. The 180-degree views from the main courtyard are stunning and it’s a joy to hang out in the courtyard by the monastery to take in the view with the monks after their morning prayer or during afternoon debates.

Although it suffered some damage in the Cultural Revolution, the monastery is in better shape than most of the other monastic centres in this part of Ü.

The main assembly hall is the most impressive of Drigung's buildings, though the version you see is a complete rebuild dating to only 2016. The left-hand figure inside is Jigten Sumgon, the founder of the monastery, with Sakyamuni in the centre and Guru Rinpoche to the right. Also look for the statue of local protector Abchi on a pillar to the side.

Upstairs on the 1st-floor Serkhang (Golden Chapel) you can see 1000 statues of Sakyamuni. Jigten’s footprint is set in a slab of rock to the side of the statue, as is his silver funeral chörten. From the bottom floor you can continue upstairs to a circuit of prayer wheels and a small chapel. Steps lead up to the left from here to the chörtens of the founders of Drigung Til and Tidrum.

Back in the lower courtyard is the monastery's main protector chapel, the Abchi Lhakhang, which houses an impressive bronze statue of the protector Abchi Chudu next to the pelt of a snow leopard. Also look out for the pair of yak horns on the pillar, after which Drigung is said to be named (a dri is a female yak and gung means ‘camp’). The name may also derive from the hillside, which is said to be in the shape of a yak.

In the rear chapel of this building is a photo of Bachung (Agu) Rinpoche, a hermit who lived in the caves above Drigung Til for 65 years. The monks of Drigung Til still praise Bachung Rinpoche for his efforts in helping to rebuild the monastery.

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