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Gelug Monasteries – The heart of the Tibetan philosophy

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Origin of the Gelug lineage &

The Gelug is the newest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

It was founded by Je Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), a Tibetan philosopher, tantric yogi and lama and further expanded and developed by his disciples.

Tsongkhapa founded the monastery of Ganden in 1409 as his main seat.

was founded by Jamyang Choje, Sera Monastery was founded by Chöje Shakya Yeshe, and was founded by Gyalwa Gendün Drup, the 1st Dalai Lama.

List of Gelug monasteries

These four were the largest and most powerful Gelug monasteries in Tibet.

Kopan Monastery

is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery near Boudhanath, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal. It is a member of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an international network of Gelugpa dharma centers, and once served as its headquarters.

Sravasti Abbey

, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery for Western nuns and monks in the U.S., was established in Washington State by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron in 2003. Whilst practicing in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition, Sravasti Abbey monastics ordain in the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya. It is situated on 300 acres (1.2 km2) of forest and meadows, 11 miles (18 km) outside of Newport, Washington, near the Idaho state line. It is open to visitors who want to learn about community life in a Tibetan Buddhist monastic setting.


The , also known as the Qoikang Monastery, Jokang, Jokhang Temple, Jokhang Monastery and Zuglagkang, is a Buddhist temple in Barkhor Square in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. Tibetans, in general, consider this temple as the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. The temple is currently maintained by the Gelug school, but they accept worshipers from all sects of Buddhism. The temple’s architectural style is a mixture of Indian vihara design, Tibetan and Nepalese design.

Namgyal Monastery

is currently located in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, India. It is the personal monastery of the 14th Dalai Lama. Another name for this temple-complex is Namgyal Tantric College.

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, founded in 1447 by the 1st Dalai Lama, is a historic and culturally important monastery in Shigatse, the second-largest city in Tibet.


, is only a short drive to the east of Lhasa, Tibet, and consists of a monastery and a number of ancient meditation caves that used to house about 300 monks.

Ganden Monastery

or Ganden Namgyeling is one of the “great three” Gelug university monasteries of Tibet, China. It is in Dagzê County, Lhasa. The other two are Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery. Ganden Monastery was founded in 1409 by Je Tsongkhapa Lozang-dragpa, founder of the Gelug order. The monastery was destroyed after 1959, but has since been partially rebuilt. Another monastery with the same name and tradition was established in Southern India in 1966 by Tibetan exiles.

Kumbum Monastery

, also called Ta’er Temple, is a Tibetan gompa in Lusar, Huangzhong County, Xining, Qinghai, China. It was founded in 1583 in a narrow valley close to the village of Lusar in the historical Tibetan region of Amdo. Its superior monastery is Drepung Monastery, immediately to the west of Lhasa. It is ranked in importance as second only to Lhasa.

Drepung Monastery

‘Drepung Monastery, located at the foot of Mount Gephel, is one of the “great three” Gelug university gompas (monasteries) of Tibet. The other two are Ganden Monastery and Sera Monastery.

Negodong Nunnery

is a historical hermitage, belonging to Sera Monastery. It is located in the northeastern Lhasa suburb known as Dodé Valley, northeast of Sera, Tibet. Buddhist scholar of the Sera Jé College’s Gomdé Regional House, Nam mkha’ rgyal mtshan. It was initially founded as a monastery with seventeen monks but later allotted for exclusive use as nunnery to provide personal security to the nuns who were then residing in a remote nunnery at Gnas nang, away from the present location at Gnas sgo gdong.

Tabo Monastery

is located in the Tabo village of Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, northern India. It was founded in 996 CE in the Tibetan year of the Fire Ape by the Tibetan Buddhist lotsawa (translator) Rinchen Zangpo, on behalf of the king of western Himalayan Kingdom of Guge, Yeshe-Ö. Tabo is noted for being the oldest continuously operating Buddhist enclave in both India and the Himalayas. A large number of frescoes displayed on its walls depict tales from the Buddhist pantheon. There are many priceless collections of thankas, manuscripts, well-preserved statues, frescos and extensive murals which cover almost every wall. The monastery is in need of refurbishing as the wooden structures are aging and the thanka scroll paintings are fading. After the earthquake of 1975, the monastery was rebuilt, and in 1983 a new Du-kang or Assembly Hall was constructed. It is here that the 14th Dalai Lama held the Kalachakra ceremonies in 1983 and 1996. The monastery is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as a national historic treasure of India.

Thikse Monastery

Thikse Gompa or is a gompa affiliated with the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located on top of a hill in Thiksey approximately 19 kilometres (12 mi) east of Leh in Ladakh, India. It is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet and is the largest gompa in central Ladakh, notably containing a separate set of buildings for female renunciates that has been the source of significant recent building and reorganisation.

Garu Nunnery

is a historical hermitage, belonging to Sera Monastery. It is located north of Lhasa, Lhasa Prefecture, in the Tibet region of China. The nunnery has an ancient history traced to Padmasambhava, the Indian Buddhist preceptor, who visited this location. He not only named the place as “Garu” but also ordained that it shall be a “Nunnery” not a monastery of monks on the basis of prophetic visions he had during his visit to the place. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, some nuns from the monasteries have made publicized demonstrations for Tibetan independence. Many of the protesting nuns were arrested, incarcerated, brutally handled and released only after protracted detention.

Rato Dratsang

, also known as Rato Monastery, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery or monastic university of the Gelug or “Yellow Hat” tradition. Rato was, for many centuries, one of the major monastic colleges in Tibet.

Erdene Zuu Monastery

The is probably the earliest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. Located in Övörkhangai Province, approximately 2 km north-east from the center of Kharkhorin and adjacent to the ancient city of Karakorum, it is part of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site.The monastery is affiliated with the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Chupzang Nunnery

(Chu bzang dgon) is a historical nunnery, belonging to Sera Monastery. It is located north of Lhasa in Tibet, China. Though the site was established as a hermitage around 1665, it was converted into an exclusive nunnery in 1984 and has since grown into one of the largest nunneries in the Lhasa Valley.

Basgo Monastery

, also known as Basgo or Bazgo Gompa, is a Buddhist monastery located in Basgo or Bazgo in Leh District, Ladakh, northern India approximately 40 km from Leh.

Tushita Meditation Centre

Tushita is a centre for the study and practice of Buddhism from the Tibetan Mahayana tradition in Himachal Pradesh in northern India. It is located in the forested hills above the town of McLeod Ganj in village Dharamkot. The centre offers Introduction to Buddhism Courses and intermediate level courses for those who have already taken one of these introduction courses besides conducting Group Practice Retreats for practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism.

Tseezhe-Burgaltaysky datsan

is the Buddhist Temple located in Buryatia, Russia.

Tongkor Monastery

is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in Zithang Town, Garzê County, Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, China.

Tamchinsky datsan

The , also called the Tamchinskii datsan or Gusinoozyorsk Datsan is a Buddhist monastery founded in the mid-18th century in the village of Gusinoye Ozero, located on the south-western shore of Lake Gusinoye, Buryat Republic, Russia.

Tsi Nesar

is a geomantic temple attributed to Emperor Songtsen Gampo who lived in the 7th century CE. However, the original buildings, their precious murals and paintings said to date back to the 12th century, and the nearby temple constructed by Emperor Trisong Detsen in the 8th century to house a famous image of Prajnaparamita, consecrated by Padmasambhava, which survived until the Cultural Revolution, have all been destroyed. A “country-style” temple has been built in recent years incorporating some of the revered ancient timbers from the original temples. It is located in a valley 25 km from Gyantse and 6 km north of .

Tsomon Ling

, Tsomonling, Tsome Ling, Chomoling is a temple in inner Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, south of the Ramoche Temple, and on the corner of one of the main roads, Dekyi Shar Lam. It was one of the Four Royal Colleges or Regency Temples of Lhasa built during the 17th century after the Fifth Dalai Lama assumed both temporal as well as spiritual power. The other three Ling are Tengye Ling, Kunde Ling, and Drib Tsemchok Ling.

Thubten Shedrup Ling

is the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Australia. It is situated near Bendigo, Victoria, and is a member of the International Mahayana Institute of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT).

Rongwo Monastery

, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Tongren County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai, China. It is 186 kilometres (116 mi) from Xining.

Spituk Monastery

, also better as Spituk Gompa or Pethup Gompa, is a Buddhist monastery in Leh district, Ladakh, northern India. 8 kilometres from Leh. The site of Spituk was blessed by the Arhat Nyimagung. It was founded by Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od when he came to Maryul in the 11th Century. He introduced the monastic community. When Lotsewa Rinchen Zangpo (Translator) came to that place he said that an exemplary religious community would arise there and so the monastery was called spituk (exemplary). During the time of Dharma raja Gragspa Bum-Ide the monastery was restored by Lama Lhawang Lodos and the stainless order of Tsonkhapa was introduced and it has remained intact as such till present. Founded as a Red Hat institution, the monastery was taken over by the Yellow Hat sect in the 15th century.

Simbiling Monastery

, also known as Shambuling Gompa, Shepeling Dzong and Taklakot Gompa, was located next to the large fort of Tegla Kar on a ridge near Taklakot, above the town of Purang, in the Ngari province, which is just over the border from India, in western Tibet in the valley of the Karnali River, which is known in Tibet as the Mapchchu Khambab – the ‘Peacock Mouth River’ or ‘River Formed from the Mouth of a Peacock’.

Sershul Monastery

(སེར་ཤུལ་དགོན།) is situated on the Tibetan Plateau at an elevation of 4,000 metres (13,000 ft). The Tibetan Buddhist monastery is located in the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province, near where the borders of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province meet.

Sanga Monastery

is a small Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in the town of Dagzê in Dagzê County, Lhasa, Tibet.

Wusutu Zhao Monastery

Wusuto Zhao is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the city of Hohhot in Inner Mongolia in northern China.

Xilitu Zhao

The , also known as Shiretu Juu or by formal Chinese name Yanshou Temple (延壽寺) is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Gelugpa sect in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, China. The original temple was built in 1585, but was later destroyed by fire and rebuilt in the 19th century. It is located East of Dana Street in the Yuquan District, just across the road from the Da Zhao Temple.

Tholing Monastery

is the oldest monastery in the Ngari Prefecture of western Tibet. It is situated in Tholing (Zanda), Zanda County, near the Indian border of Ladakh. It was built in 997 AD by Yeshe-Ö, the second King of the Guge Kingdom. In Tibetan language ‘Tholing’ means “hovering in the sky forever” and is reflected by the location of the monastery at an elevation of 12,400 feet (3,800 m). The complex includes three temples, the Yeshe-O Temple, the Lhakhang Karpo and the Dukhang. There are many ancient, precious, and well-preserved frescoes.

Amarbayasgalant Monastery

or the “Monastery of Tranquil Felicity”, is one of the three largest Buddhist monastic centers in Mongolia. The monastery complex is located in the Iven Valley near the Selenge River, at the foot of Mount Büren-Khaan in Baruunbüren sum (district) of Selenge Province in northern Mongolia. The nearest town is Erdenet which is about 60 km to the southwest.

Reting Monastery

is an historically important Buddhist monastery in Lhünzhub County in Lhasa, Ü-Tsang, Tibet. It is also commonly spelled “Radreng.”

Egituysky datsan

is a Buddhist temple in Buryatia, Russia located in Yeravninsky District.

Atsaysky datsan

“Tubden Darzhaling” is one of the oldest Buddhist Gelug monasteries in Buryatia, which operated from 1743 to 1935.

Badekar Monastery

, alternatively known as Wudang Temple, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Gelug sect. It is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Inner Mongolia, and was designated a Major Historical and Cultural Site Protected at the National Level in 1996.

Buchu Monastery

, Buchu Sergyi Lhakhang, or Buchasergyi Lakang Monastery is a temple in an ancient monastery about 28 km south of the modern town of Bayi, which replaces the old village of Drakchi, in Nyingchi County of eastern Tibet.

Burkhan Bakshin Altan Sume

On December 27, 2005, the was opened in Elista, the capital of the Republic of Kalmykia, a federal subject of the Russian Federation. More than 5,000 people attended the opening ceremony, including representatives of Tibetan Buddhist communities from Moscow, Volgograd and Saratov.

Chokorgyel Monastery

is a Buddhist monastery in Gyatsa County in Tibet.

Dazhao Temple (Hohhot)

Da Zhao Temple or Wuliang Temple, or Ih Juu in Mongolian, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Gelugpa order in the city of Hohhot, Inner Mongolia in North China. It is the oldest and largest temple in the city and is located West of Dana Street in the Yuquan District.

Drongtse Monastery

Drongtse Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery was formerly one of the most important Gelug monasteries in Tsang, Tibet. There was also a chorten there.

Ivolginsky Datsan

is the Buddhist Temple located in Buryatia, Russia, 23 km from Ulan Ude, near Verkhnyaya Ivolga village.

Milarepa’s Cave – Nyalam

Milarepa’s Cave or Namkading Cave is a cave where the Tibetan Buddhist philosopher, and Vajrayana Mahasiddha, Milarepa spent many years of his life in the eleventh century. It is located 11 kilometres (7 mi) north of the town of Nyalam at Gangka village. It is on the slope below the China–Nepal Friendship Highway and above the Matsang river in Nyalam County, Tibet.

Kandze Monastery

is situated 2 km north of Garzê Town on a hilltop overlooking the town, in Tibet.

Khangmar Monastery

or Kangma Monastery is a Gelugpa establishment to the southeast of Kandze Town, capital Kandze County in Sichuan province, China. There are several other monasteries along the Yalong River including the Gelugpa Drakar, Nyatso, and Tsitso monasteries as well as the Sakya Dontok and the Kagyu Rirak Gonpas.

Kirti Gompa

, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery founded in 1472 and located in China’s Sichuan Province. As of March 2011, the gompa was said to house 2,500 monks. However, reports indicate its population has declined substantially as a result of a crackdown by authorities.

Labrang Monastery

is one of the six great monasteries of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Its formal name is Genden Shédrup Dargyé Trashi Gyésu khyilwé Ling.

Likir Monastery

or Likir Gompa (Klud-kyil) is a Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, Northern India. It is located at 3700m elevation, approximately 52 kilometres (32 mi) in the west of Leh. It is picturesquely situated on a little hill in the valley, in Likir village near the Indus River about 9.5 kilometres (5.9 mi) north of the Srinigar to Leh highway. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and was established in 1065 by Lama Duwang Chosje, under the command of the fifth king of Ladakh, Lhachen Gyalpo (Lha-chen-rgyal-po).

Manjusri Monastery

Mañjuśrī Monastery is a former gompa established in 1733 and destroyed by Mongolian communists in 1937. Its ruins are located approximately 15 kilometers south of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar on the south slope of Bogd Khan Mountain.

Ani Tsankhung Nunnery

is a nunnery of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism in the city of Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. It was built in the 15th century on a site that had been used for meditation by the 7th century Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. The nuns support themselves through alms and manufacturing items such as clothing and printed texts.

Milarepa Cave – Gandaki

Milarepa Cave or Milerepa Cave is a cave associated with Milarepa in Nepal on the Annapurna Circuit at approximately 13,450 feet (4,100 m) just outside Manang. It is credited to have been the residence of the famous Tibetan Buddhism siddha Milarepa during his stay in 11th century in what is now modern-day northern Nepal. This site also includes a holy spring and a gompa. The cave is located beyond the gompa, with locals praying from the edge of a glacial moraine in direct line of sight of the cave as its approach is on a steep scree slope.

Meidaizhao Monastery

or Meidaizhao Lamasery is a Tibetan Buddhist temple located in Tumed Right Banner, Baotou, Inner Mongolia, China.

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