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Sera Monastery in Lhasa

Sera monastery is one of the largest and oldest monasteries in Lhasa. It is one of the three great Gelug monasteries in Lhasa, along with Drepung and Ganden.

Before the cultural revolution, more than 5,000 monks lived in Sera monastery. Even though only a few hundred monks live there now, it remains one of the most important monastic centers. The monastery complex includes printing house and three colleges in addition to monks quarters.


Group of monks in Sera monastery

Sera Monastery was founded by Tsongkhapa’s disciple Jamchen Coje in 1419. There are three colleges in monastery complex: Sera Me, Sera Je, and Sera Ngagpa.

The monastery withstood cultural revolution, but the colleges were damaged.

Visiting Sera Monastery

Sculpture of two listening deer on top of Sera monastery

Every day, except Sundays you can see the famous monk’s debates in the courtyard. They usually begin in the afternoon, so the best time to visit Sera is after 2 pm.

The debates are an important part of studying Buddhism. Monks of the Gelug order believe, that along with studying the texts, it is important to practice what they’ve learned. They gather in the courtyard to ask each other questions about religious topics to ensure that they understand it well.

For visitors, it is an interesting performance. Monks accompany their discussions with specific gestures. They change partners, gather for discussions, joke and enjoy the process.

Sera Monastery Colleges

Assembly hall of Sera Je College

Sera Je College

The largest college in Sera monastery complex. The Hayagriva (horse-headed deity) chapel in the college is one of the most important in Sera, and parents bring kids there to get the blessing.

Sera Je

Protector painted on the wall in Sera monastery complex

Sera Me College

Sera Me college was erected at the time of the construction of Sera monastery. Monks were trained in philosophical studies there to receive the Geshe degree, the highest degree in religious studies.

Sera Me

Sera Ngagpa College Assembly hall

Sera Ngagpa

Sera Ngagpa is the tantric college in Sera monastery and the oldest building in the complex. It served as an assembly hall before the construction of the modern day main assembly hall.

Sera Ngagpa

Things to do nearby

Group of monks in Sera monastery

Walk around the monastery

Many Tibetans walk around the monastery (the circumambulation around the holy place is called kora and it is always walked in a clockwise direction) and you can join them not only to experience the local culture but also to see some interesting views. The small kora around the monastery will take approximately 30 minutes.

Tea house in Sera monastery

Visit the local tea house

The tea house inside the monastery is run by monks and many locals gather there to get a cup of delicious sweet tea or to have lunch.

Join Tibetans to rest in a shade of trees and prepare to explore the monastery complex.

Suggested Tours

Mount Everest and Rongbuk monastery in Tibet

8 Days Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Tour

A beautiful and exciting journey, starting in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and going to the Everest Base Camp. The tour visits Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera, Drepung and Tashilhunpo monasteries, Kumbum Stupa, Yamdrok lake and Karola glaciers.

Both group and private tours are available

Samye Monastery the first monastery in Tibet

6 Days Tibetan Cultural Heritage Tour

This private tour takes you from Lhasa to Yarlung Valley and Samye Monastery. Yarlung valley is the birthplace of Tibetan civilization. You can see Yumbulakhang, an ancient fort and the first surviving building in Tibet. After that, you will visit Samye, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.

Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal

7 Days Lhasa to Kathmandu Tour

This tour starts in Lhasa. We will stay there for 2 days to explore the capital and acclimatize. After that, we will head to the center of attraction in Himalayas – Mount Everest. We will spend a night by the highest mountain on a planet and continue driving through majestic mountain ranges, alongside rivers and waterfalls to the border between Tibet and Nepal.


2 Responses

  1. Kirt
    | Reply

    Can we watch debates in the monastery?

    • Wonders Of Tibet
      | Reply

      Dear Kirt,

      Yes, of course! It is one of the main attractions of Sera monastery. We visit it during the time when monks debate in the courtyard.

      Best Regards,


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