KEY FACTS ABOUT TRADRUK
School of Buddhism: Gelug
Founded: the 7th century by the king Songtsen Gampo
Location: 7 km from the center of Tsedang, 2 km from Tradrug town
Alternative spelling: Trandruk, Tradruk, Tradrug, Trandrug, Trangdruk, Trhandruk, Trangdruk, Traduk, Changzhu, and Changzhug
Tradruk is one of the first Buddhist temples built during the reign of Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. At about the same time, the king initiated the construction of Jokhang Temple and Ramoche Temple in Lhasa.
Tradruk Temple is located 7 km away from Tsedang on the east side of Yarlung River. It belongs to the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Tradruk temple and Jokhang temple were built at approximately the same time. There is some debate about which temple was completed first. The general consensus is that king Songtsen Gampo initiated the construction of the Jokhang temple first, but the construction of Tradruk was completed faster. Tradruk was much smaller than Jokhang, although it had a similar inner chapels layout on the ground floor. You can still see religious items in Tradruk going back to the 7th century.
According to beliefs, Tradruk was one of the geomantic temples built to subdue a huge ogress that symbolizes Tibetan terrain. Temple stands on ogress’s left shoulder, while Jokhang stands at her heart.
The name of Tradruk comes from a legend around the construction of the temple. Falcon (‘tra’) as an emanation of Songtsen Gampo defeated a dragon (‘druk’) at the present-day temple site.
It became one of the main three royal temples (along with Jokhang and Samye monastery) during the time of the 8th century Tibetan King Trisong Detsen.
Tradruk Temple was badly damaged during the rule of Langdarma. However, was soon restored and expanded far beyond its original size. New chapels were added in the 14th century. After that, the Fifth Dalai Lama added the magnificent shining golden roof and a courtyard. Finally, the Seventh Dalai Lama further expanded the temple. Tradruk became about 100 times larger than its original site, with an area of 4,667 square meters (81 m long and 57 m wide). By the end of construction, Tradruk had 21 temples and extraordinary exterior decoration.
Some buildings were damaged during the Cultural Revolution. Reconstruction was finished in 1988. After that, the Temple was consecrated.
To the left from the entrance is a small 2-storey chapel (Neten Lhakhang), where Songtsen Gampo stayed during the construction of the temple.
Near the entrance was one of the three ancient Yarlung bronze bells, unfortunately, lost nowadays. The two remaining bells are in Jokhang Temple and Samye monastery.
The main temple – Tsuklakhang has a similar architectural layout with Jokhang (and has the same name too). The Assembly hall is in the center, and 12 chapels surround it.
Dolma Tashi Jamnyom Lhakhang
This chapel in the center of the East side of the Assembly hall is the most important. The central statue of standing Tara is located to the right from the entrance. It is a replica of the original statue, with pieces of the ancient statue inserted into the new one. Tibetans call the statue “Speaking Tara”. In the chapel, you will also see the Five Dhyani Buddhas. These statues are also clay replicas with original pieces inside of them and some pieces on display nearby.
In the inner chapel on the second floor of Tradruk you will see the real gem of the temple. The original 7th-century pearl thangka depicts Avalokiteshvara – Buddha of Compassion. The entire image of the Buddha is made of strings of natural pearls. Thangka is 2 meters long by 1.2 meters wide. There are 29,026 pearls, one diamond, two rubies, one sapphire, purple gemstone, 185 turquoise stones, 1997 pieces of coral and 15.5 grams of gold weaved into silk.
Shakyamuni Buddha Silk Thangka
Next to the pearl thangka you can see another great original thangka depicting Shakyamuni Buddha, 2.9 meters long by 1.7 meters wide. The weaving of the Thangka is very tight and precise. Buddha is sitting in a meditation posture touching the ground with his right hand and his left hand is showing a meditation gesture. He is wearing a red robe, and lotus flower decorates his blue hair. Around him are 8 auspicious symbols: the wheel of Dharma, white conch shell, white umbrella parasol, victory banner, lotus, water vessel, golden fish, endless knot.
PLACES TO VISIT NEAR TRADRUK
Yumbulakhang is the first fortress in Tibet, where the first Tibetan Kings executed control over Tibet. According to legends, the first Buddhist scriptures fell on the roof of Yumbulakhang.
During the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama, Yumbulakhang became a Buddhist temple.
Nowadays, it attracts tourists because of its unusual for Tibet architecture and amazing view on the surrounding valley.
Mindrolling is one of the six great Nyingmapa Monasteries. It is located on the way from Lhasa to Tsedang. Buildings of the complex are made of beautiful brown stones, and large tall white stupa dominates the landscape. Inside Mindrolling you can see some old murals and old original statues.
Samye is the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet built in the 8th century. The monastery complex resembles the shape of a mandala. The central temple – Utse has three floors each built in a distinct style.
You can hike up the nearby Hepo Ri hill to get an incredible view of the Samye monastery from above.
RECOMMENDED TOURS VISITING TRADRUK
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.
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.