DORJE DRAK

KEY FACTS

School of Buddhism: Nyingmapa
Founded by the First Rigdzin, Chenpo Ngodrub Gyaltsen known as Godemchen
Location: North bank of Brahmaputra, Gongga County, Changguo town
Altitude: 3520 meters

ABOUT DORJE DRAK

Dorje Drak monastery in Tibet

Dorje Drak and the nearby Mindrolling Monastery are the two important monasteries of Nyingmapa Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Along with Mindrolling, it is one of the six Mother monasteries of the Nyingma school. The other four main Nyingma school monasteries are in Kham, Eastern Tibet.

Originally, Dorje Drak was founded by the first Rigdzin (Godemchen) in Tsang. Godemchen discovered a set of texts (terma) that became a foundation of the Buddhist teaching in Dorje Drak. These texts are the Northern Treasure (Jangter). The texts of the Southern Treasure (Lhoter) are the foundation of teaching in the nearby Mindrolling monastery. 

At the time of the Third Rigdzin in 1632, Dorje Drak was moved to its present day location. The setting is very beautiful on the bank of the Brahmaputra River (Tibetan: Yarlung Tsangpo river) at the base of the mountain with a rock shaped like a dorje (Tibetan: thunderbolt). That’s why the name of the monastery is Dorje Drak.

In 1717, the Mongols partially destroyed the monastery. During the Cultural Revolution, it saw even more damage. It is still not fully reconstructed and in worse shape than Mindrolling, and sees less foreign tourists. 

The head lama of the monastery is Rigdzin, reincarnation of Guru Rinpoche. Similar to Mindrolling lineage, the lineage of lamas is hereditary. The present day head of the monastery is the 10th Rigdzin (currently living in Lhasa). 

To visit Dorje Drak you can drive from Lhasa, Samye or trek from Lhasa (about 4 days). It is about 50 km from Samye monastery. 

ASSEMBLY HALL

Dorje Drak Assembly Hall

There are many beautiful murals painted on the walls of the Assembly Hall. The most notable murals depict Guru Tsengye (8 manifestations of Padma Sambhava), Godemchen and hundreds of peaceful and wrathful deities. You can also see the lineages of the main traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. 

Originally, the inner chapel displayed 3 floors high bronze statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. Presently, the reconstructed clay statue, flanked by images of eight Bodhisattvas, replaces the original statue. 

The small protectors chapel on the side displays a statue of Mahakala among other protectors. 

The chapel on the right side is the oldest in the monastery. Inside you can see the self-appeared on the stone image of Compassion Buddha

Upstairs there is another chapel, library and the living quarters of Dordrak Rigzin and Taklung Tsetrul. In the chapel, you will see statues of Longchepa and the Three Deities of Longevity. Library contains scriptures of Kangyur and Tengyur. 

KORA AROUND DORJE DRAK

Dorje Drak monastery and sand dunes

After visiting the monastery, you can walk kora around it. The kora path takes up the mountain where you will see the rock in the shape of vajra. Along the way you will see many religious rock paintings and sacred footprints, including the footprint of Padma Sambhava. Once you reach the top of the hill, you can see ruins of the meditation retreat. Standing on the top of the mountain, you will be rewarded by great views on the Yarlung Tsangpo River, huge sand dunes and the monastery complex. 

PLACES TO VISIT NEARBY

RECOMMENDED TOURS

View of Samye monastery from Hepo Ri

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.

Tibetan monk meditating outside

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.

Yumbulakhang the first fort in Tibet converted to temple

7 DAYS CRADLE OF TIBETAN CIVILIZATION TOUR

This tour will take you to the birthplace of Tibetan culture. From these places Tibetan civilization as we know it emerged. You will visit Lhasa first and explore Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung, Sera, and Ganden monastery. After that, we will drive to Yarlung valley. First, we will visit Tradruk Monastery and Yumbulakhang. After that, we will continue journey to Samye monastery.

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Dorje Drak monastery Complex, Tibet