Sera Monastery, one of the ‘great three’ Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet, lies 2 kilometers north of Lhasa. The other two Gelukpa university monasteries are Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery. Built in 1419, the monastery preserves thousands of Buddha statues many of which were brought in Lhasa from India and inner China in ancient times. The treasures in the monastery are the image of gilded Chenrezi and the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
Taking an area of 115,000 square meters, the monastery is divided into two parts by pathways. The eastern section includes The Tsokchen (Great Assembly Hall) and the Homdong Kangtsang (dwelling place), while the western section has the three colleges of the Sera Je Tratsang, the Sera Me Tratsang, and the Ngkapa Tratsang of Gelug. The Tsokchen in the northeast of the monastery is an administrative center and the assembly hall. As the largest hall, the Tsokchen is composed of squares in front of the hall, scripture hall and five Buddha halls.
The Sera Je Tratsang, the largest one among the three, was built in 1435 and enlarged in the 18th century. It has a statue of the Hayagriva, also known as Chenresig or Avalokiteshwara. The hall of the college depicted frescoes of Buddhas’ achievements and activities. On the wall are suspended Thangkas. Sera Me Tratsang was originally constructed in 1419 and then destroyed by thunder-fire. The now Sera Me Tratsang was built in 1761 with an area of over 1,600 square meters.
The Ngkapa Tratsang, the smallest one, was a three storied construction built in 1419 by Jetsun Kunkhen Lodroe Rinchen Senge. It has an assembly hall and two chapels in the first floor. The second floor had the images Amitayus and eight ‘Medicine Buddha’.
The debates on Buddhists doctrines are most attractive for tourists. The monks learn Buddhism knowledge through the debates which are held at 15 o’clock on every Wednesday and last about two to three hours. Most people head to the debates ahead of 15 o’clock.
The mountain behind the north of the monastery is the site for ‘sky burial’ in Lhasa. You may have a chance to see sky burial if you climb the mountain in the early morning. But for respecting the Tibetan customs, the tourists are prohibited to watch sky burial by Tibet government.
Admission Fee: 55RMB, Free for Tibetan
Open Time: 9:00 to 18:00 (the most halls are closed at 15:00, watch the debates)