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Sera Monastery

--One of the three great monasteries in Lhasa

Sitting at the foot of Tatipu Hill, Sera monastery is in the northern suburb of Lhasa City. It is one of three great monasteries in Lhasa along with the Drepung Monastery and the Ganden Monastery. The three Gelug temples of Sera, Drepung and Ganden were known collectively as the "Pillars of the State." Besides, Sera Temple is also one of the six great temples of the Gelug Sect of Buddhism in Tibet. Sera Temple has been listed as one of the Chinese national cultural relic since 1982.

Sera Monastery, Lhasa

Sera Monastery, Lhasa

Sera Monastery was completed in 1419 under the supervision of Shaka Yeshe. He was an important teacher and he had traveled to Beijing and Mongolia to preach Buddhism and has been a tutor of Emperor, Xuan De in Ming Dynasty. So the emperor sent a lot of precious gifts to Sera Monastery of the time, and many of them are still well preserved and can be seen today.

Sera Monastery is magnificent, featuring a unique style quite different from other famous monasteries in Lhasa and covering an area of 114,946 square meters (28 acres). Its main buildings are the Coqen Hall, Zhacang (college) and Kamcun (dormitory). Buddhist Scriptures written in gold powder, fine statues, scent cloths and unparalleled murals can be found in these halls. The monastery is a Buddhist think-tank and lively debates on Buddhist doctrines are held here.

Lamas debating about the Buddhism at Sera Monastery

Lamas debating about the Buddhism at Sera Monastery

Once the more than 5,000 monks resident in the monastery and there were five monastic colleges. Although much less active now, with only several hundred monks currently in residence, one of the most interesting times to visit the temple is in the afternoon when monks, after finishing their morning scripture classes, are debating in the courtyard. Sera Monastery continues as a training center set at the foot of Tatipu Hill where young monks train in the debating garden and prepare for scholastic examinations by holding mock debates. In Lhasa Buddhism, the debating garden is a whetstone where the mind is sharpened.

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