Drigung Til Monastery Tibet
Drigung Til Monastery is about 150 kilometers away from downtown Lhasa, about 3 hours’ drive. It was first established in 1167, and the head monastery of the Drigungpa school of the Kagyupa order in central Tibet. There are a lot of Drigung Kagyu monasteries near the Drigung Til Monastery. It is said that there have been as many as 30 in history, and still kept at least six or seven now. Right now there are 270 monks at Drigung Til Monastery.
Drigung Til sprouts from a high, steep ridge overlooking the Drigung Valley. A steep thread of a path makes its way up into the monastic complex, although there is also vehicle access from the eastern end of the valley. The 180-degree views from the main courtyard are impressive and a serene stillness pervades the site.
Drigung Til Monastery was established in 1179 by Jigten Sumgön, the founder of the Drigung Kagyu tradition. The Kagyu sect was originally a large sect, however, because of a feud with the Sakya Monastery during the Sakya Dynasty, the two sides ended up fighting each other, and the war lasted for a long time. Although it suffered damages in several wars from 1290 to the end of the 15th century, it is in better shape than most of the other monastic centers in central Tibet.
Layout and features
The entire Drigung Til Monastery sits north to south. The plane of the temple is curved. It is laid out according to the world structure in the Buddhist scriptures. It looks like a long courtyard and covers an area of about 3,000 square meters. The layout of the whole monastery is grand and solemn. Outside the gate of the monastery, there are stone statues and ponds outside the square, and both sides are green fields. The monastery stands between steep cliffs and mountains and is very spectacular.
Inside the monastery are the relics of the ancestors of the Tibetan Kagyu sect and eight tomb monks of India. From the south to the north, the main hall is followed by the Ling Pagoda Hall, the Great Buddha Hall, the Zen Meditation Room, the Tashi Guomang Hall, and the Dharma Shrine. Each hall has a spacious platform to beautify the environment of the ancient monastery.
The monastery kora heads up the hill to the main Durtro. This is the holiest sky-burial site in the Lhasa region, people travel hundreds of kilometers to bring their deceased relatives here. According to record, there are three most famous sky-burial sites in the world: one in India, one in the south of Tibet, and the last one are in the Drigung Til monastery. Among the three, Drigung Til sky-burial site is the largest. Since August 2013, the local government has banned tourists to see the sky-burial ceremony. Occasionally, it's possible to observe after you gain permission from both the deceased family and the senior lama who conducts the ceremony.
Special Activities in Drigung Til monastery
The famous Tibetan Buddhism activities ‘Year of the Horse to make the kora in Mount Kailash, Year of the Monkey to make the kora in Zhari Holy Mountain’, were founded by the masters of the Drigung Kagyu School. And the opening ceremony was presided over by the monks from Drigung Til Monastery every time.
Drigung Til Monastery performs the Vajra Dance from March 28th to 29th every year according to the Tibetan calendar. Beginning in February of the Tibetan calendar, the monks of the whole monastery would gather together to chant sutras for a month. The purpose is to drive away evil spirits and pray for the good of the coming year. On 25th April in the Tibetan calendar, is the annual Buddhist concert of Drigung Til Monastery, which is also called the Drigung Til Summer Buddha Ceremony.
Useful Travel Tips
- The admission is 45RMB Per Person, and the opening time is 06:00 am to 16:00 pm.
- Please respect the local folk customs and do not visit the sky-burial without permission.
- The Tidrum Nunnery near the Drigung Til Monastery is a famous place for nuns to practice, and also its medical hot-spring which can cure many diseases.
- There is a hiking route from Maizhokunggar County to Drigung Til Monastery. The scenery along the route is gorgeous and the difficulty is medium. The whole journey will take four days.
- There are only rudimentary guesthouses around Drigung Til Monastery, to provide instant noodles and hot water only. The other facilities and services are not complete. The better lodging options are near the hot-springs in Tidrum Nunnery.