Yarchen Gar Buddhist Institute

Top choice buddhist monastery in Yaqing

On a quiet bend of the Dzin-Chu River in the remote grasslands of Garzi Prefecture, this 10,000-strong Nyingma (Red Hat) community of nuns and monks living in improvised housing under the shadows of magnificent golden-roofed temples is rivalled only by the better-known Larung Gar Five Sciences Buddhist Academy to the north. The encampment is split into a monks' residence to the east of the river and a much larger housing area for the 7000 nuns who live to the west (closed to visitors).

The housing areas are a warren of improvised structures, from which monks and nuns constantly come and go en route to debates, lectures and meditation sessions at the large colleges that form the heart of the community. Much of the population of Yarchen Gar is purportedly made up of displaced residents from Larung Gar, expelled during government raids, and their lack of official recognition as students here leaves their legal right to residence as an open-ended question.

Be sure to visit several of the temples scattered cross the camp (circling round the nun's quarters on their side of the river for access), in which classes are held throughout the day to educate the religious community. The roofs, most of which are accessible to visitors, also offer fantastic views of the village and surrounding countryside.