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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 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.


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.Group of monks in Sera monastery

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

Visiting Sera Monastery

Sculpture of two listening deer on top of Sera monasteryEvery 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.

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.

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