Sera Monastery in Lhasa Tibet Tour Guide:
One of the Great Three Gelukpa University Monasteries, the Sera Monastery on the outskirts of Lhasa Tibet makes for a great excursion. Named Sera for the rose trees in the surrounding hillside, the 15th Century Sera Monastery was an important centre of learning until a revolt in 1959 resulted in heavy damage to the monastery, deaths of hundreds of monks and an exodus of the survivors to safer shores such as India.
Restored to its original glory since then, the monastery is now a hermitage and houses only a few hundred monks – a small remainder, in comparison to the thousands of pre-1959 era. Open to tourists now, the Sera Monastery offers a lively view of life as a monk as well as allows a peek into the magnificent buildings that once housed famous monks and scholars as students.
Explore the Great Assembly Hall, a magnificent 22,000 sq ft hall adorned with large appliqué Thangkas and deities of Maitreya, Dalai Lamas V, VII and XII, Tsongkhapa (with his favourite disciples), Chokyi Gyeltsen, Desi Sangye Gyatso and monastery founder Jamchen Choje Shakya Yeshe. Religious rites and rituals were conducted in this hall. Head to the courtyard behind the monastery to witness the lively debates of the monks, which though in Tibetan, are very interesting, especially as the monks express themselves not just by words but by lively actions.
The complex also houses the university colleges of Sera, a printing hall, a hermitage and the caves, where Tsongkhapa meditated. Other highlights of the Sera Monastery include magnificent scroll paintings, verses from scriptures embossed in gold powder, sand art, tapestry paintings and thangkas.