Kumbum Monastery…སྐུ་འབུམ་བྱམས་པ་གླིང་

On the road in Qinghai

The Kumbum Monastery is a must for anyone that wants to experience culture and Buddhism.Being the religious center of monks and followers of the Yellow Hat Sect (also named Gelugpa Sect, a branch of Tibetan Buddhism), the Ta’er Monastery (Kumbum Monastery) is located in Huangzhong County, Qinghai Province, 25 kilometers (about 16 miles) away from the capital city of Qinghai Province – Xining.

In order to commemorate Tsong Khapa (1357-1419), founder of the Yellow Hat Sect, the Ta’er Monastery was built in 1577 more than 150 years after his death. Now it is considered a sacred place in China.

In the Tibetan language, Ta’er Monastery is called ‘gongben’, which means ‘10,000 figures of Buddha’. During its long 400 years of history, it has gradually become a place of interest for its distinct ethnic color and native style. The whole area covers more than 144 thousand square meters (about 36 acres) with mountains surrounding it. It has 9,300 rooms and 52 halls. Just judging from these figures, you can imagine what a splendid place it is. The Ta’er Monastery is a group of fine buildings in a combination of both the Han and Tibetan styles of architecture on the mountain slopes. It has lofty temples and halls rising one upon another. The palace buildings, Buddhist halls, sleeping quarters, as well as the courtyards echo each other and thus enhance the beauty of the whole area.

Among so many buildings, the Great Hall of the Golden Roof and the Great Hall of Meditation are the main parts.

As the center core building, the Great Hall of the Golden Roof is in the middle of the monastery. Its colorful gates, which are different in length, are carved into various flower patterns and painted with multifarious fresh colors. The surfaces of the walls are covered with green ceramic tiles and embedded with countless pearls, agates, and gems, making the whole hall sparkle.

Inside the hall, there is a silver tower built to commemorate Tsong Khapa. This tower is also embedded with many kinds of jewels and wrapped with ten layers of pure white Hada (raw silk fabric presented to exalted guests to express purity, honesty and respect) to show its grandness. In front of the tower golden and silver lights and old flasks are displayed with more than 5,000 small golden figures of Buddha surrounding them, which enhance the stateliness of the Tsong Khapa’s statue in the shrine. In the ark behind the hall, the treasures of the Yellow Hat Sect are stored. They are considered very precious relics of the Ta’er Monastery.

The monastery is usually very busy in throughout the year and the narrow alleys and paths can be overcrowded, but the spiritual atmosphere of being in such a sacred location makes up for this. This monastery is still in everyday use so you can see Buddhist monks frequently praying and living their everyday life here. This is one of the most important religious sites to many Tibetans, after seeing it for myself it’s easy to see why.

As this is a religious site photographs in certain areas are strictly forbidden.

Transport and Ticket Prices

Entrance Ticket costs: 80rmb

Bus leaves from Xining Gymnasium (体育馆; Tǐyùguǎn) every half hour throughout the day til evening. The bus takes about one hour to travel to Huangzhong.

After coming to the monastery I highly recommend to drive to Qinghai Lake.

Sources:

“Xining Ta’er Monastery, Qinghai”. Travelchinaguide.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 13 Aug. 2016.

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