Drepung monastery was once the residence of the Dalai Lamas, before the construction of Potala Palace was completed.

History

Drepung Monastery was once one of the world’s largest monasteries. The word Drepung literally translates as “rice heap, a reference to the huge numbers of white monastic buildings that once piled up on the hillside. It suffered through the ages with assaults by the kings of Tsang and the Mongols, but was left relatively unscathed during the Cultural Revolution and there is still much of interest intact. Rebuilding and resettlement continue at a pace unmatched elsewhere in Tibet and the site once again resembles a small village, with around 600 monks resident out of a pre-Liberation total of around 7000.

Drepung was founded in 1416 by a charis- matic monk and disciple of Tsongkhapa called Jamyang Choje. Within just a year of completion the monastery had attracted a population of some 2000 monks.

In 1530 the second Dalai Lama established the Ganden Palace, the palace that was home to the Dalai Lamas until the fifth built the Potala. It was from here that the early Dalai Lamas exercised their political as well as religious control over central Tibet, and the second, third and fourth Dalai Lamas are all entombed here.

Visiting the Drepung Monastery

Things to do nearby

Visit Protectors chapel

At the bottom of the hill you can see the protectors chapel. It is very popular among Tibetans.