Situated at the foot of Mount Gephel, Drepung Monastery is one of the great three Geluka university monasteries in Tibet. It is the largest monastery among all the monasteries in Tibet. The monastery on the Gambo Utse Mountain is about three miles (five kilometers) to the west of Lhasa. Taking up roughly half an acre (200,000 square meters), the monastery was built in 1416. And in 1464, units were constructed for teaching the Buddhist scripture. It houses over 7,000 monks at most.
The Ganden Podang in the monastery was the residence of Dalai Lamas until Potala Palace was built by the Fifth Dalai Lama so that the Drepung Monastery enjoys great prestige compared with other Geluka university monasteries.
Tsokchen (Assembly Hall), the center of Drepung Monastery, can accommodate 7,000 to 10,000 monks. It is the place for all monks in the monastery to chant the sutras and hold Buddhist ceremonies. A courtyard outside the hall is the place for lamas to debate the Buddhist scriptures. The winners can take the test to get the senior degree of Geshi. The hall contains some Buddha statues and other decorations. The first floor contains a splendid statue of Dalai Lama XIII. The second floor houses Buddhist scriptures and the third, a three feet (15 meter) tall statue of the 8-year-old Maitreya Buddha designed by Tsongkapa.
The path of pilgrimage extends southeast down to the Nechung Monastery.
Shoton Festival takes place from June 30th to July 6th of the Tibetan calendar in Lhasa. On the first day, the ceremony is held at the foot of the Gebeiwoze Mountain in the Drepung Monastery. The large Thangka is unfolded and exhibited on the mountainside of Gambo Utse Mountain. This is beginning ceremony of Shoton Festival.
The debates in the monastery are at 14:30 to 16:30 and at 20:00 to 22:00.
Admission Fee: 55RMB per person, free for Tibetan
Open Time: 9:00 – 13:00