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The Palkhor Monastery

 

Palkhor Monastery, also named Palcho Monastery, is very different from other monasteries. It lies about 230 kilometers (143 miles) south of Lhasa and 100 (62 miles) east of Shigatse at the foot of Dzong Hill. Built as a 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. The ground floor of the three-story building is a Chanting Hall with 48 columns, which are decorated with old silk "thangkas". An eight-meter high (26 feet) bronze statuary of Maitreya is also on display. The gilded figure is made from 1.4 tons (3086 pounds) of 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 roof, a chapel houses a collection of 15 "mandala" murals, which are three meters (ten feet) in diameter. Additionally, the monastery collects about 100 robes and costumes worn in Tibetan opera, all of which were made of silk, embroidery and tapestry during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).

The monastery houses monks from the Gelugpa, Sakyapa and Kahdampa orders. Although they once quarreled and fought, the different orders eventually discovered a way to get along with each other. The monastery is the only one known to house 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 various icons. These icons include Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Vajras, Dharma Kings, Arhats, Disciples, great adepts of different orders in Tibetan Buddhist history, and outstanding figures in Tibetan history such as Songtsen Gampo and Trisong Detsen. In total there are about 3,000 statues, so it is called "Myriad Buddhas Stupa". Covering a space of 2,200 square meters, the "stupa" has a total of 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.

Admission Fee:  CNY 40
Opening Hours: 09:10 to 16:00
Recommended Time for a Visit:  Two hours
Bus Route: As the Monastery is just located in the downtown centre of Shigatse, you can walk there casually.
 

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