Suitcase and World: Lhasa. Drepung Monastery.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Lhasa. Drepung Monastery.

After having met Gung Chu, a Tibetan monk studying at Gomang College in Drepung Monastery, I was really interested in seeing where he spends his days.

We all met in the hotel lobby at the appointed time and headed out on the street to catch a local bus. Everyone was in good spirits despite the fact that everyone was still suffering from a bit of altitude sickness. Bus fare was 2 yuan - less than 30 cents!

Claire, Margeret and Jo on the bus.

Once we reached the outskirts of the city, we got off the bus and boarded the back of one of these trucks. For one yuan each, the owner of the truck would shuttle us up to the monastery.
The truck wound its way up the wooded hillside.
and we could see the town below.

It was our first time in the Tibetan countryside so when I caught sight of the yaks, I had to take a photo!

We arrived at the base of the monastery - a smaller chörten serving as backdrop to vendors selling souvenirs.

We bought our entry tickets.
By now, we had gotten used to the routine of having to walk up to the entrance of the monastery.
Stopping along the way to catch our breath gave us the opportunity to enjoy the vistas.

....and we saw a water propelled prayer - the only one that we would see on our trip through Tibet.
Animals are a common sight in Tibet. Those that are stamped with a red mark and carry a bel (such as this goat) are considered to be sacred.

As with the all the monasteries that we had visited, Drepung is a working monastery so you will see Tibetans going to worship. Once home to over 10,000 monks, only several hundred live and study there today - a result of restrictions by the Chinese government.

It was not a common sight but we did see images of Buddha painted on boulders.

Just before we reached the entrance to the monastery, we took a break to admire the view of the monastery from a stone bridge. The images etched onto the side panels of the bridge are of three of the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism.

From the bridge, we had one last set of stairs to climb and then we reached a courtyard from where we would enter the monastery....

....and see some of the buildings that make up the monastery.

We toured several of the chapels. Photography was allowed inside but you had to pay and price depended on the chapel. I opted to not take any photos except when we were outside. By this time, we had toured enough monasteries that even the exterior architecture of the monastery looked very familiar. Even so, I love the vibrant colors and could never pass up the opportunity to capture the images on my camera!

We didn't stay long and soon, retraced our steps back to catch the truck and bus back to the hotel. I couldn't wait to get back to the hotel as I was starting to feel the flu coming on and all I wanted to do was take some medicine, crawl into bed and sleep it off!