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Discover Dromo Kagyu Monastery: Popular Cultural and Historical Gem

Dromo Kagyu Monastery: A Tibetan Cultural Treasure


Location and History of Kagyu Gonpa

Kagyu Monastery is situated on the northern slopes of Nathula Mountain in Rinchen Gang Village, Lower Yadong Township, Shigatse, Tibet. The monastery uniquely borders Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, and India on its east, west, and south sides. Also known as ” Kagon Tsechok Ling (བཀའ་དགོན་ཚེ་མཆོག་གླིང), it was founded in 1747 by Drubwang Tsamba Ngada (གྲུབ་དབང་མཚམས་པ་མངའ་བདག་) and Gongma Tenzin Nyida Sangpo (གྲུབ་ཆེན་ས་ར་ཧའི་རྣམ་སྤྲུལ་གོང་མ་བསྟན་འཛིན་ཉི་ཟླ་བཟང་པོ་་). This venerable institution has been passed down through eleven generations. In 1996, it was declared a regional cultural relic by the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government.

Architectural Features

  • Structure and Size: Kagyu Monastery is characterized by its wooden gabled roof structure. Measuring 50 meters in length and 29 meters in width, it covers an area of about 1450 square meters. The monastery is surrounded by 3-meter high walls made of mud bricks, with the main entrance located at the southern end of the west wall.
  • Courtyard and Main Hall: Upon entering, visitors find themselves in a courtyard, with the main hall located in the northeast corner. The hall, facing south, is approximately 25 meters long and 19 meters wide, with a “convex” shaped floor plan covering around 475 square meters. Originally a two-story building, the upper floor housed the Kagyu Podrang (Kagyu sect palace) and the Living Buddha’s residence, which were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and restored in 1985.

Interior Details

  • Entrance and Main Hall: The entrance to the hall features a five-step stone staircase leading to a two-story gatehouse, with the lower floor serving as a porch supported by two pillars. The central part of the hall is the scripture hall, three bays wide and deep, supported by four pillars, and houses a clay statue of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava).
  • Protector Deities Halls: To the west of the scripture hall is the Protector Deity Hall, spanning two bays in width and three in depth, with two supporting pillars. It contains statues of Vajradhara, Yi Hu Shen, and Auspicious Heavenly Mother. The eastern side of the scripture hall is dedicated to the Gelug sect’s Protector Deity Hall, similar in size, and houses various protector deity statues.

Kagyu Monastery: A Tibetan Cultural and Artistic Oasis

The Artistry of Kagyu Monastery

  • Murals: Kagyu Monastery’s murals are particularly renowned, employing the Nepalese “wet mural” technique. This style focuses online drawing and uses gradation to create depth and texture, resembling ink wash paintings.
  • Murals in the Porch: Redrawn in 1985, the porch’s murals retain a 1-meter section of the original artwork on the south wall. It depicts Shakyamuni Buddha seated on a lotus throne, with disciples holding a staff and bowl in front, surrounded by smaller images of the seated Buddha. The lower part features painted images of White Tara, Green Tara, and Vajrayogini.
  • Scripture Hall Murals: The west wall of the scripture hall features a central image of Shakyamuni Buddha with a halo, seated on a lotus throne. Flanked by disciples holding staffs and bowls, the lower row depicts White Tara and the Four Heavenly Kings.
  • Protector Deity Hall Murals: The hall is adorned with stunning murals of Vajrayana protector deities. Notable are the depictions of Vajradhara, Yi Hu Shen, and Auspicious Heavenly Mother, each exuding power and majesty. Yi Hu Shen, for instance, is portrayed with nine heads, each with three eyes and five-skull crowns, and a fearsome appearance that includes human skin scarves, a serpent waistband, and bow-and-arrow-bearing arms.

Preserved Artifacts

Although many artifacts were lost during the Cultural Revolution, Kagyu Monastery still houses precious items such as Thangkas, embroidery, a four-faced bronze Avalokiteśvara statue, and the “Great Radiance” wooden plaque donated, making it a repository of Tibetan art and history.

Artistic Treasures of Kagyu Monastery


Four-Faced Avalokiteśvara Statue

This unique bronze statue of Avalokiteśvara stands at 30 centimeters tall with a 30-centimeter-wide lotus base. The deity, with a high bun, is depicted half-naked with a full chest, in a meditative pose. Adorned with circular seven-petal flower earrings, a necklace, and armlets, the deity is draped in a scarf over the shoulders, wearing bracelets and arm ornaments, and seated in a lotus position on an inverted lotus pedestal.

Avalokiteśvara Bronze Mold

Measuring 20 centimeters in height and 12 centimeters at the base, this double-leaf mold forms a triangular conical shape. Avalokiteśvara, with a high bun and floral crown, wears circular flower earrings. The upper body is bare, decorated with necklaces, bracelets, armlets, and draped in a scarf. The deity holds a transformed Buddha in both hands, seated in a lotus position on an inverted lotus seat.

Shakyamuni Buddha Thangka

This Qing Dynasty thangka, 90 centimeters long and 60 centimeters wide, uses blue as the base color with red, white, yellow, and green accents. It features Shakyamuni Buddha in the center with a topknot and long earlobes, robed, holding a treasure bowl, seated on a lotus throne. Surrounded by a circular halo, the Buddha is flanked by squatting Tara figures. The upper part of the thangka depicts Mount Meru with Chinese-style pavilions; to the left are seated figures of Shakyamuni Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and a Tibetan king, and to the right are Tsongkhapa and his two disciples, all surrounded by Lama stupas. The lower part includes Bodhisattva and protector deity figures, along with Lama stupas.

Dhrtarastra Thangka

Another Qing Dynasty masterpiece, 90 centimeters long and 60 centimeters wide, portrays Dhrtarastra, the Guardian King of the North, known in Tibetan as “Namsey.” Clad in armor, riding a white lion, holding an umbrella in the right hand and a mouse in the left, he is surrounded by a circular halo. The thangka is framed with Chinese-style pavilions and courtyards filled with armored horsemen. The upper section features two rows of small seated Buddha figures, with the central three being Tsongkhapa and his disciples, rendered realistically.

Visitor Tips for Kagyu Monastery

  • Admission: Free. Visitors are welcome to make voluntary offerings.
  • Opening Hours: 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
  • Location: Located 18 kilometers from Yadong County. Visitors can only reach Kagyu Monastery by hired car or self-driving, with the car hire costing around 50 yuan.
About the author

The Tibetan Travel website's creator, hailing from Lhasa, is a cultural enthusiast. They promote responsible tourism, connecting the world to Tibet's beauty and heritage. Awards recognize their contribution.

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