fbpx
You are here: Home » Destinations » Lhasa: the Capital of Tibet » Pabongka Monastery
  • Save

Pabonka Hermitage is one of the oldest monasteries in Lhasa, dating back to the 7 century. Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo meditated there before the construction of Jokhang temple. However, it is lesser known and tourists rarely visit it. It makes it a great off the beaten path destination in Lhasa. Pabongka Hermitage will be interesting for meditators and people curious about Tibetan history and Buddhism.

Visiting monastery can make a great day trip outside of Lhasa. You can combine it with visiting a nearby nunnery. It will be a good trekking practice if you are going on a longer trek afterward.

LOCATION

It is located in a serene place, in Nyang Bran valley, approximately 8km away from the city center. From the hill you can see a view on Lhasa city, Historically, Pabongka was an independent monastery. Nowadays it is a part of Sera monastery hermitage.

HISTORY

7 century monastery complex Pabongka
  • Save
7-century monastery complex Pabongka

Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo established Pabongka Monastery in 643 A.D. At the same time, he established more famous Jokhang and Ramoche temples in the center of Lhasa Old Town. However,  the style of Pabongka was very different.

The main building had nine floors. The King also used a strong iron chain on all four directions of the building to stabilize it. When construction of Pabongka was finished, King Songtsen Gampo and his ministers meditated for three years in the main building. The king and Thonmi Sambhota invented the Tibetan alphabet in the same building. 

During the 8th century, Tibetan King Trisong Detsen, Indian master Guru Rinpoche and Tibet’s first seven monks meditated in the main building where King Songtsen Gampo meditated a century before them. At that time, Pabongka belonged to the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. 

Stupa by Pabongka monastery in Lhasa
  • Save
Kids sliding down from the stupa by Pabongka

Unfortunately, nowadays, we cannot see the original impressive building. It was destroyed in 841 A.D by the Anti-Buddhist king Langdharma. Pabongka was rebuild in the 11th century, but only two floors remained in the main building. During that time, Tibetan Buddhist Kadam sect was very popular in Tibet and Pabongka became a part of Kadam tradition.

In the 17th century, Fifth Dalai Lama unified Tibet. He restored Pabongka and added one more floor to the main building. Pabongka became a part of Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) order and remains a Gelug monastery up to this day. 

It suffered some damage during the Cultural Revolution. In recent years it was repaired. Monks from Sera monastery helped to repair Pabongka and restored ancient artifacts. You can see all the most important objects in the monastery. Since that time, Pabonga belongs to the Sera monastery Hermitage.

IMPORTANT ARTIFACTS

Meditation cave in Pabongka
  • Save
Meditation cave in Pabongka

Inside the main chapel, you can see the most important three Buddha statues. Tibetans called this trinity Rigsum Gompo. These three statues are self-arising carvings depicting Chenresig (Avalokiteshvara), Jampelyang (Manjushri) and Chana Dorjee (Vajrapani). 

To the left from the entrance, look for a carved mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”. It is one of the most important relics in the monastery. Tibetan alphabet was invented in Pabongka. Before inventing the Tibetan alphabet, Thonmi Sambhota wrote this mantra as an offering. 

VISIT PABONGKA

10 Days Meditation Tour

On this tour, you will experience Tibetan culture, visit incredible landmarks and see the natural beauty of Tibet. At the same time, we will travel to the most peaceful and special places where the greatest Buddhist Lamas have been meditating for years.

We will spend time in the meditation caves, away from the busy world, make stops by the most impressive natural sightseeing spots, and, of course, visit the most important monastic centers, including Samye, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.

Preparing for the Trip

Traveling to Tibet becomes easier in 2019
| |

Tibetan Tourism Bureau announced some important changes in Tibet travel regulation in 2019. This year they are planning to simplify the process and make it easier for thousands of tourists to get their permits. Permits... Read More

5 Reasons to Travel to Tibet in Winter
| |

Save As the weather in Tibet is getting cold in winter, many people prefer to postpone their visit until warmer months. That’s why the most popular time to visit Tibet is during summer. However, visiting... Read More

  • Save

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

122 Shares
Share via