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Palkhor Monastery

Palkhor Monastery, also name Palcho Monastery is very different with other monasteries. It lies about 230 kilometers (143 miles) south of Lhasa and 100 (62 miles) east of Shigatse, at the foot of the Dzong Hill. As a typical fifteenth Tibetan monastery, its structural style is very unique.

Tshomchen, the Main Assembly Hall of Palkhor was built between the end of fourteenth century and the beginning of the fifteenth century, with thangkas of different styles hung all around. The ground floor of the three-story building is a Chanting Hall with 48 columns, which are decorated with old silk thangkas. A bronze statuary of Maitreya is eight meters high (26 feet). The gilded figure cost 1.4 tons (3086 pounds) bronze. On the second floor, Bodhisattva Manjushri and Arhats, from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), were enshrined in the chapels. Its Arhat Chapel is famous throughout Tibet. On the top roof floor, a chapel houses a collection of 15 mandala murals, which are three meters (ten feet) in diameter and enjoys a good reputation. Additionally, the monastery collects about 100 robes and costumes worn in Tibetan opera, which were all made of silk, embroidery and tapestry during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).

The monastery houses monks from Gelugpa, Sakyapa and Kahdampa order. It is very strange that they eventually got along with each other although they quarreled and fought. The monastery is the only monastery that houses monks from different orders in harmony. As a result, its structural style, deities enshrined and murals are very special.

Palkhor also features its Bodhi stupa, or Kumbum in Tibetan, which was built in 1412 and completed 10 years later. Deemed as the symbol of the monastery, the spectacular stupa consists of hundreds of chapels in layers, housing about a hundred thousand images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Vajras, Dharma Kings, Arhats, Disciples and great adepts of different orders in Tibetan Buddhist history, and outstanding figures in Tibetan history such as Songtsen Gampo and Trisong Detsen, including about 3,000 statues, so it is called Myriad Buddhas Stupa. Covering a space of 2,200 square meters, the stupa has totally 108 gates and 77 chapels, each of which has a dominant religious figure and murals. The cylinder, 20 meters in diameter, has four chapels inside. The elegant structure is worthy of a visit.

The Kumbum - one of Tibet's most famous and impressive sites.The Temple was the centerpiece of the Palkhor Chode Monastery, built in 1440 by Rabten Kunsangm, a Gyantse Prince and named "Kumbum" or the "Hall of 100 thousand images".

      This is a spectacularly well preserved chorten, crowned with a golden dome and still containing literally thousands of wonderful murals. The interior too is largely intact and spread out over six levels. There are more than 70 chapels on the first four levels alone.

      Scholars arrive with bags of reference books and flashlights to see some of the oldest preserved murals in Tibet. Rare in most Tibetan Monasteries, the monks in the Kumbum will allow unlimited picture taking of the marvelous Buddha statues for Y10. If you don't pay, they will kindly request that you leave your camera with them while visiting.

      The real highlight are the views from the 6th level where you emerge next to the chorten's eyes. The surrounding countryside and the city below look very impressive from up here.

Admission Fee:

CNY 45

Opening Hours: 09:00 - 17:00
Recommended Time for a Visit: The Palkhor Chode and the Kumbum sit on the northern hill overlooking the town of Gyantse's one intersection,just at walk distance from Gyantse town.

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