Ganden Monastery Travel Guide
The Ganden Monastery is situated on the slope of Mount Wanpur to the east of Lhasa(about 40km). It was founded in 1417 by Tsongkhapa. And it is the first Gelugpa monastery.
In Tibetan the word "Ganden" means "joy" and is also the name for the "western heavens" where the Maitreya Buddha (the Future Buddha) resides. From a distance, it looks very much like a castle. Ganden monastery is the first Gelugpa monastery in Tibet. Some people said that Mount Wanpur resembles a sitting elephant with the Ganden Monastery on its back. This is an auspicious symbol to Tibetans. Others say that Mount Wanpur appears to be the kind Dorlijiaing with the Ganden in her arms. The monastery was built by Tsongkapa in the early 15th century remains the power center of this sect today. And it contains his tomb pagoda. Underneath the north wall of the Tomb Pagoda Hall, there is said to be a flying rock from India, which is also venerated by the Buddhists. The monastery has extremely delicate and fine murals and sculptures.
The temple is comprised of over 50 structures. The main halls in the temple are the Main Assembly Hall (or Coqen Hall), Zhacangs, Khangtsens, and Myicuns.
Coqen Hall is positioned in the northern part of the whole complex and faces south. It serves as the main assembly hall. It has three levels, and is 43.8 meters (143.7 feet) wide and 44.7 meters (146.7 feet) long. The Sutra Hall runs through the middle of the first floor, with the three Buddha Halls branching from it. The Sutra Hall is so large that it can hold over 3,000 lamas. Inside the Buddha Halls are statues of the Maitreya Buddha and the master Tsong Khapa, the initiator of Gelugpa. To the west of Coqen Hall is the other main hall consisting of the Buddhist Guardian Hall, Mandala Hall, and other complexes. It was built during the early fifteenth century, from 1409 - 1416. Built into its back wall is a huge stone which is said to have flown from India!
Tri Thok Khang is one of the earliest Buddha Halls in the Ganden Monastery, and once served as Tsong Khapa and other tripas´ bedchamber. Originally built in 1409, and added onto in 1720, it was once adorned with luxurious gilded bronze bricks. In the hall are enshrined statues of the Sitatapatra and Manjushri Bodhisattva. Its windows are ornately carved in the style of the Central Plains. Due to the fact that is houses clothing of Tsong Khapa and other tripas, it is also known as the "Clothing-Preserving Hall".
Ganden Monastery is one of the earliest and largest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, and stands atop of the six famous temples of Gelugpa - a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Its significance as a religious, artistic, political and cultural relic led to it being preserved by the National Key Cultural Relic Preservation scheme in 1961.