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Located 130 kilometers away from Sakya City in southwest, Sakya Monastery is the first temple of Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It was built by Khon Konchog Gyalpo, the founder of Sakyapa sect of Lamaism, in 1073.
It was a small monastery and poorly structured originally. However, it has become a grand architecture complex with an area of 14,760 square meters involving 40 building units through continuous expansion in all ages.
The Zhongqu River runs through the monastery, dividing it into southern monastery and northern monastery.
The northern monastery has been mostly deserted and the southern monastery still remains. Its walls are painted in red, white and grey strips, which represent Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani respectively. The northern monastery looks like a castle with walls as high as 13 meters. It is a square with an area of 15,000 square meters.
Layout of the southern monastery follows that of ancient city in Han that plays an important role in defense. Within the castle, there is an apartment of monk. Overall, the southern monastery merges architectural styles of Tibetan and Han together.
Sakya Monastery is home to various hand-written Buddhist scriptures and books in Ming and Qing dynasties. It has the largest number of books among all the monasteries in Tibet. These scriptures and books are precious materials for research into the Tibetan history. Furthermore, massive delicate thangka, frescos and china of Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties are all on display here. Thangka and frescos are exotic painting art in Tibetan monasteries. The number of thangka collected in Sakya Monastery reaches over 3,000. Due to millions and valuable art treasures it collects, Sakya Monastery is regarded as “the second Dunhuang”.