Ganden Monastery the first temple of the Yellow Hats

Ganden Monastery Lhasa Tibet
The Ganden Monastery is the largest in the tradition of the sect of the Yellow Hats. Built by the founder of the sect, Tsongkhapa, the site became a symbol of the religion for the area. It is here the great Tibetan master ended his life, after having fulfilled the prophecy announced 2,000 years ago. His tomb is surrounded by gold relics and personal treasures that reflect his character.

Foundation of the Sect

More than thirty kilometers from Lhasa, there is the first monastery of the Yellow Hats sect. This sect, also called Gelugpa, was founded by Tsongkhapa in 1409.Tsongkhapa built Ganden’s main temple, with largest statues and three dimensional mandalas. Its mission was to develop the most powerful Tibetan monastic school. And this is what he did when his first monastery was built and hosted 500 monks in 1410. Settling then in the monastery, it became the first Khripa places and was responsible for its regency.


Unlike how the Dalai Lama is chosen according to its reincarnation, Khripa of the monastery is elected by votes. Tsongkhapa had founded two colleges, with a leader at the head of each. After the death of Tsongkhapa, these are the leaders who assumed the roles and carried out the functions of the Khripas. Until today, it is 97 Khripas who have succeeded to the head of the monastery. Being chosen for their wisdom and their organization, Khripas have always proven to be very good rulers in the absence of the Dalai Lama.

Tomb of Tsongkhapa

The founder of the sect of the Yellow Hats lived and died in this temple. In the room was Chituokang bedroom where Tsongkhapa died. His disciples then virtually rebuilt the room to settle his tomb with a splendid silver stupa and relics. Later, the thirteenth Dalai Lama did replace it with golden stupa.

Gandan Monastery Today

As one of the “great three” Gelug university monasteries of Tibet, Ganden Monastery has suffered destruction after 1959. There are a few hundred monks living in the Ganden Monastery. They are trying to perpetuate the teaching of Tsongkhapa, but with the events of the last century, it is difficult. In addition, many buildings were destroyed during riots and most buildings are reconstructions.


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    3 800M Altitude Ganden Monastery
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