Tashilhunpo Monastery

On August 26, 2011, in Monasteries, More Cities, Temples, Tibet, by Jack Li

The name “Tashilhunpo” means “auspicious”. Situated on the eastern slope of Mount Nyima to the west of the city of Shigatse, Tashilhunpo Monastery is the largest temple in the Shigatse area. It is the dwelling place of the Panchen Lamas ever since the 4th Panchen, and is one of the six famous Shamanist temple in the country.

In the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the most magnificent constructions are the Maitreya Palace and Panchen Stupa Palace. The Maitreya Palace, 30 metres high, is in the west of the monastery where enshrined the 26.2-metre-high sitting statue of Maitreya made in 1914 under the supervision of the 9th Panchen, Chokyi Nyima. The statue cost 115,700 kilograms of brass and 335 kilograms of gold; to inlay the eyebrows of the Buddha alone cost more than 1,400 pearls and diamonds. No wonder it is the largest brass sitting statue of Buddha in the world. Coming to the Panchen Stupa Palace, you will see stupa towers of different sizes adorned with pearls and jade. Crisp oil lamps varying in amount are lit on each tower and keep burning all year round. In the stupa towers lie the Buddhist relics of the previous Penchan Lamas. The stupa of the 4th Penchan is the most luxurious one of all.

There is yet another interesting sight in Tashilhunpo Monastery—numerous unowned dogs gather around the monastery. Apart from dogs, you can find many goats, roosters and other animals around the temples in Tibet; they roam leisurely about and bathe in the sun just like people do. This shows one essential belief of the Tibetan people: every creature has a spirit and deserves respect from the others.

Jack Li
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