- Location: No. 1, Sera Road, Chengguan District, Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region, China
- Recommended reason: One of Top 3 monasteries in Lhasa; One of the top 6 monasteries of Gelug Sect
- Opening hours: 9:00-16:00
Located in the foot of Wutse Hill in Lhasa, Sera Monastery is not only one of the top 6 major monasteries of Gelug Sect, but also the second-largest monastery in Tibet. Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery and Gandan Monastery are collectively known as the three major monasteries in Lhasa.
History of Sera Monastery
As the latest one of the three major monasteries, Sera Monastery was built in 1419 AD. Sera refers to the wild rose in Tibetan, so this monastery was called "Sera Monastery". The debates of Buddhist scriptures in the Sera Monastery is well-known around the world. In its heyday, there were about 8,000 monks in the Sera Monastery. It was the second-largest monastery in Tibet, just ranked after the Drepung Monastery.
The Structure of Sera Monastery
The early constructions mainly centered on the Mai Dratsang and Aba Dratsang. After the renovation and expansion of the following dynasties, it formed the current scale. For now, Sera Monastery consists of Cuoqin Hall, Ji Dratsang, Mai Dratsang, Aba Dratsang and 32 khangtsens. The architecture of the Sera Monastery is dense but not crowded, complex but no mess. The layout is suitable for the local conditions and also highlights the main building, which reflects the special characteristic of Gelug Sec monasteries. Sera Monastery looks totally a religious city.
Highlights of Sera Monastery
Located in the northeast part of the Sera Monastery, Cuoqin Hall is the largest hall in the Sera Monastery and the management center of religious affairs. It was built in 1710 with four floors. Cuoqin Hall consists of the scripture hall, the square in front of the Cuoqin Hall, and five Buddha halls. The square is covered by stones with an area of 2,000 square meters.
With an area of 1,703 square meters, Ji Dratsang is the largest dratsang in the Sera Monastery. It was built in 1435. The scripture hall has more than 100 pillars and is decorated with Thangkas, canopies and mantles. The surrounding walls are painted with biographies of Sakyamuni and various Dhammapala temples. In the northern part of the hall, there are many coffin towers and Buddha statues.
Mai Dratsang is the early building of the Sera Monastery. It was built by Shakya Yeshi in 1419. However, it is said that the early building was destroyed by a lightning strike. Mai Dratsang was rebuilt by Qiangqu Pengba in 1761. It enshrines the bronze statue of Shakya Yeshi. There are four Buddha halls in the Mai Dratsang. Dhammapala Temple in the western of Mai Dratsang, also called Tewu Buddha Temple, mainly enshrines the Dharma Protectors "Tewu".
In the early stage, Aba Dratsang, also called Esoteric Buddhism Dratsang, was built in 1419 Ad as the Cuoqin Hall. After the completion of the current Cuoqin Hall, it was changed to a dratsang. Aba Dratsang is a three-storey building with an area of 1,517 square meters. It is composed of the scripture hall and four Buddha halls. There are 4 long pillars and 42 short pillars. Aba Dratsang enshrines the statue of Shakya Yeshi.
The Hayagriva Statue is the most famous Buddha statue in the Sera Monastery. Hayagriva was the deity of early Indian Buddhism and the Dharma Protector. The image of the Dharma Protector in Tibet is usually wrath, which means that eating all evils and destroy all monsters to show their true shapes.
Sera Bengqin Festival
Sera Monastery has a grand festival called "Sera Bengqin", which means the blessing of the Vajra Pestle. One legend tells that a vajra pestle came from India, known as "Fly Vajra Pestle", was worshiped in the Danzeng Dhammapala Temple on the 27th day of the 12th Tibetan month. In the past, on the morning of December 27, the law-executor of Jieba Dratsang delivered the Vajra Pestle to the Dalai Lama in the Potala Palace. After the Dalai Lama blessed the Vajrasaki, he took the Vajra Pestle back to the Sera Monastery. The Khenpo tapped the head and blessed for monks and believers. Tens of thousands of believers come to the Sera Monastery during the Sera Bengqin Festival for blessings and protection from Buddha, Bodhisattva and Dharma protector.
Best time to visit Sera Monastery
You can visit the Sera Monastery in all seasons.
How to Get to Sera Monastery
You can take the public buses No. 6, 16 or 24 to Sera Monastery Station.
Tips for visiting Sera Monastery
♦ There are many ancient murals in the Sera Monastery. You'd better take a flashlight or headlamp for easy watching.
♦ The debates of Buddhist scriptures in the Sera Monastery usually begin at 15:00. There are no debating activities on weekends.
♦ The recommended tour for you: 13 Days China Tibet Tour