Palcho Monastery - Synthesis of Tibetan Culture
Palcho Monastery, also called Palkhor Monastery is a typical combined building with stupa and temple, and quite different from other Tibetan monasteries in more aspects. By housing three sects of Sakyapa, Kadampa and Gelugpa together, it has a hard-won lenient tolerance among the Tibetan sects to balance them well. Therefore, the design and layout of Palhor Monastery is a synthesis of the three sects to combine different structural Zhacangs (room for monks), enshrined deities and more integrated Tibetan Buddhist Culture.What’s more, the Myriad Buddha Stupa (or Palcho Kumbum) as a powerful Buddhist symbol and a calling card, making Palcho Monastery becomes more attractive and special.Whether you come for Tibetan architecture art or the deep Tibetan religious culture, Palcho Monastery with different Buddhist sculptures, religion murals, monastery architectures can give you more than just you want to explore.
Palcho Monastery Facts
- Summer & Autumn
- Religious Site, Architectural Buildings
- 3,900 meters
- Gyantse County, Shigatse City
Palcho Monastery History
The Palcho Monastery means lucky and happy temple in Tibetan, is founded in 1427 and completed 10 years later. It is the only monastery in Tibet that housed monks from different sects in harmony.
As a fusion of Han, Tibetan and Nepali architecture, this monastery is a three-storey flattop building complex, consisting of Temples, Stupas, Zhacangs, Fort walls, Wheel-prayer cloister and more religious sites. Cuoqin Hall of over 500 years’ history, is the main building and center of this monastery for the monk assembly and other Buddhism issues. By combined the three sects, the Buddha statues here has a different style from other temples here.
In history, Palcho Monastery had gone through twice enormous destruction (British invasion in 1904 & Cultural Revolution in 1959). After survived from those damages, it was reconstructed for several times and some of the treasures are still well kept todays, like the murals.
Palcho Monastery Highlights
Tibetan Buddhist Architecture
Palcho Monastery is a typical Tibetan Buddhism temple architecture with temples in the stupa, stupa in the temple. These well preserved stupas and temples stay harmoniously and bring out the best in each other. Its architecture fully represents a typical style of temples from thirteenth century to fifteenth century in Later Tibetan area, so it is reputed as a monument of architecture period. Among those temples and stupas, the Myriad Buddha Stupa, with different chapels overlapped inside, is the best known architecture in Palcho Monastery. And the different Zhacangs, subject to different sects or shared together are great places to find the local monks life and experience the Buddhism.
Myriad Buddha Stupa
Myriad Buddha Stupa, also called “Kumbum” is a must-see in Palcho Monastery. By representing of the Buddhist universe, it is portrayed by a circle within a square to enables devotee to participate in the Buddhist perception of the universe. Built in 1418, this gold-topped, white building with nine tiers covering a space of 2,200 square meters, has 32 meters high with a total of 108 gates and 77chapels spreading in each floor. Tourists can enter the Kumbum and follow a clockwise route up to visit each chapel in different floors.
Within a dominant religious figure and murals, here has 10,000 images of Buddhas painted, including Bodhisattvas, vajras, dharma kings, arhats and disciples of the different schools from throughout Tibetan Buddhist history. Besides, there are thousands of mud, copper and gold figures of Buddha which embrace the art style in India, Nepal and inland China. Some of the statuaries were damaged while the elegant structure and the beautiful murals are worth visiting.
Main Assembly Hall
Main Assembly Hall of Palcho Monastery, called Cuoqin Hall, was built between the end of fourteenth century and the beginning of the fifteenth century. The ground floor of the three-story building is a Chanting Hall with 48 columns, which are decorated with old silk "thangkas." An eight-meter high (26 feet) bronze statuary of Sakyamuni, made from 1.4 tons (3086 pounds) of bronze, is also on display here. There are kinds of Buddhas enshrined in the chapels on the second floor, including the Arhats statues. For the top floor, it is a treasure store with many thangkas, murals, embroidery, tapestry and more for over 100 pieces are collected.
Palcho Monastery Murals
The murals as a cultural carries, witness the Tibetan religious history is another highlight in Palcho Monastery. There are different themes murals by presenting various subjects, like story-telling of Buddhism, famous historical figures in Tibet religions and some esoteric Buddhism culture, etc. apart from the content, the painting skills and arts of those murals are inimitable.
How to Get to Palcho Monastery
Situated in 1 km northwest of Gyantse County, about over 100 km northern side of Shigatse and 230 km southern side of Lhasa, the Palcho Monastery is normally visited along the way from Lhasa to Shigatse according to our tour itineraries, where the private vehicle will stop by Gyantse County for you fully appreciate this monastery.
With many other attractions nearby, you can walk around to visit more:
● 0.4 km away from Gyantse Ancient City
● 1.4 km away from Dzong Castle
● 3.6 km away from Pala Manor
● 6.7 km away from Yarlung Zangbo River
For independent tourists, you may first drive to Gyantse from Lhasa / Shigatse, then walk to Palcho Monastery or take the pedicab there to visit around.
Useful Travel Tips
● The ticket is for 60rmb and if you want to take photo of the Kumbum, there is another charge of ¥10, which is worth it for record many precious murals and Buddha statues.
● After entering the temple, you must walk clockwise from left to right.
● The opening hour is from 09:00 to 17:00, please arrange your arrival time if you stop by from Lhasa to Shigatse.
● With a dim light in the Kumbum, visitors are suggested to bring a torch or flashlights.
● Make sure to respect the local customs and religious beliefs. With more suggestions, please contact our travel consultant before you prepare to book our Tibet tours.
How to Plan A Tibet Tour
Tibet is too vast to be visited in one single trip, but planning ahead of time can make most of your holiday. A classic Tibet tour always takes about 4 ~ 8 days. Apart from 2 days for arrival and departure, it usually needs 2 other days to explore majestic Potala Palace and other landmarks in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. With a day trip’s distance from Lhasa, Namtso Lake is another perfect tour extension if you visit Tibet from May to October.
To explore further, it’s strongly recommended to travel from Lhasa to Mount Everest via Gyantse and Shigatse, which usually needs 4 more days. It is an unforgettable sightseeing trip with lots of attractions to visit, such as Yamdrok Lake, Karola Glacier, Kumbum Stupa of Palcho Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery, etc. Of course, the biggest draw must be gazing upon the unparalleled north face of the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest.
For Buddhist followers and hiking lovers, you are suggested to travel to Ngari to join the kora around the holy Mt. Kailash and sacred Lake Manasarovar, which usually takes about 5 ~ 8 more days from Lhasa. The wild nature of Ngari is spectacular as well.
If you are looking for a longer Himalaya adventure, you can travel Tibet with two other charming Himalayan Kingdoms – Nepal and Bhutan by overland driving or flight. If you have your own needs or interest, just feel free to contact us to customize a trip of your own!
More Gyantse TravelL Guide
Recommended Tour Packages
Tibet has too much to offer. And our aim is to bring you the best experience in Tibet. Following are some other recommended Tibet tour packages that you may be interested in. All of our Tibet tour packages are customizable to meet your personal requirements. You can also contact us to customize a trip if you want.
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