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Sera Monastery is one of the three famous monasteries in Lhasa, along with Drepung Monastery and Gandan Monastery. Though it is less superior to Jokhang Temple, and less magnificent than Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery has its own unique characteristic. Here, “sera” in Tibetan means wild rose; and since the Wuzi Hill was once covered with wild roses in bloom when the monastery was built, the name of Sera Monastery came into vogue.
The monastery was first built by one of the Tsong Khapa’s disciples in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Located at the foot of Wuzi Hill in the northern suburb of Lhasa City, Sera Monastery covers an area of 114,946 square meters (28 acres). The monastery includes a tsokchen (Great Hall), three tratsangs (colleges that offer specialized studies) and thirty-two khangtsens (residential compounds with chapels reserved for monks coming from different areas of Tibet). There are also a great deal of cultural relics, handicrafts, scriptures and murals in the monastery for your visit. The highlight of Sera Monastery is the Debating of Buddhist Doctrines, which is about a discussion of Buddhism to share knowledge as well as a challenging debate and a battle of words and wits, when the monks gather and debate in the courtyard after finishing their morning scripture classes. It is often held in 3:00pm, and attracts numerous tourists here.