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Located around 5 km from the county town of Shangri-La, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Songzanlin Lamasery is the largest Tibetan Buddhism monastery in Yunnan Province, a collection of monastic buildings that enjoy the reputation as "little Potala Palace". The lamasery is constructed across the side of a mountain whose shape was said to be reminiscent of a castle. The two main lamaseries, Jikang and Zhacang, command the highest vantage points in the overall architectural design of the monastic complex. They are built in an archtypical Tibetan watchtower style. Surrounding each of these main lamaseries are series of sub-lamaseries, dormitories, and associated structures.
There are many human treasures in the Songzanlin Lamasery, like the Buddhist scriptures written on palm leaves, which have been used by Dalai and Panchen Lamas. The invaluable cultural objects also include eight famous gold-covered sculptures of Sakyamuni. Every year on the 29th day of the 11th month of lunar calendar, Tibetan residents of Shangri-la hold their Gedong Festival, whose major activity is a dance (a mask dance) to worship Buddhist deities. The Gedong Festival is permeated with an atmosphere both of religious piousness and earthy cheerfulness.