Palkor Choede Monastery: A Unique Combination of Stupa and Temple in Tibet

The Palkor Choede Monastery, constructed in 1418, is located at the base of Gyangtse Dzong Mountain. It harmoniously combines the Sakya, Shalu, and Gelug traditions. On the right side of the Tsochin Hall, there is an auspicious multi-door pagoda, depicted in the image above. It is said to be modelled after the great pagoda of Lazijuonang Temple, which was built over a century before Palkor Choede Temple. This pagoda has eight sides, nine floors, 108 gates, and 76 Buddhist halls, each adorned with beautiful murals and statues, earning it the nickname of the Hundred Thousand Buddha Pagoda.

The Tsokchen Hall of Palkor Choede Monastery

The Tsokchen assembly hall, built in the late 14th century, has stood for over five centuries. It consists of three levels: the Sutra Hall on the ground floor with 48 columns, and the upper levels dedicated to the third Buddha, the East Pure Land Hall, and the West Pure Land Hall. The temple’s statues have a distinct style that distinguishes them from others due to their affiliation with the three religions of flowers, white, and yellow. Among all the halls, the most remarkable and easily noticeable is the Cuoqin Hall. In the northwest of the scripture hall, there is an 8-meter-tall Jampa Buddha statue made of brass, weighing 14,000 kilograms, and plated with gold. Surrounding the Lachi Hall on the second floor of the Tsokchen Hall are various Buddhist halls.

The Lachi Hall hosts the highest-level “Lachi Conference” in the temple. The East Chamber Hall contains the statues of Manjusri Bodhisattva and Eighteen Arhats, while the Juedeng Hall houses a three-dimensional mandala with a diameter of 3 meters, both with a history of over 500 years. As you enter the second sutra hall, you will be greeted by an array of resplendent Buddha statues adorned in splendid garbs and posed in unique stances. Each Buddha has distinct hand gestures, and their eyes seem to watch over all sentient beings. As you quietly walk through the hall, the Buddhas’ gaze scrutinizes you in the softly lit space. On the third floor, you will find the Shaye Lakang, a Buddhist hall renowned for its mandala murals and rare hexagonal lotus caisson.

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Kubum Choten (Hundred Buddha Stupa)

The “One Hundred Thousand Buddha Pagodas,” is the striking landmark of Palkor Choede Monastery.  Standing at over 32 meters tall with nine floors, the Palkor Chodee Kubum Pagoda is nicknamed the Nine-story Linglong Pagoda. It is a complex structure consisting of nearly a hundred overlapping Buddhist halls, including 77 Buddhist halls, 108 doors, shrines, scripture halls, and other unique architectural treasures.

The “Hundred Thousand Buddha Pagodas” gets its name from the more than 100,000 Buddha statues that are painted in the hall. The tower houses over a thousand Buddha statues made of clay, copper, and gold, making it a museum of Buddha statues. To reach the top of the tower, you can climb the stairs from the Taxi entrance. If you can’t locate the stairs, it’s best to turn back as some stairs are hidden.

Beautiful Murrals inside Gyangtse Palkor Choede Monastery

 The murals at Temple are renowned throughout Tibet. As you walk through the slightly bright corridor, you can see the murals more clearly. Visiting the murals at Temple is like immersing yourself in the profound Buddhist world. The murals are categorized into three groups: Xianzong, Tantric, and historical figures.

The Xianzong category is further divided into three sections: Different Life Stories, Buddha Biography Stories, and Buddha Jataka Stories. The paintings are mainly concentrated on the first floor of the main hall, the corridor, the four-story halls of the auspicious multi-door pagoda, the first floor of the Pure Land Hall, and the Tushita Palace Hall.

The murals at Palkor Choede Monastery have a unique painting style compared to many other temples in Tibet. One of the significant features of the decorative content of these murals is the backlight, which consists of two parts: the bald head and the body light.

The Temple murals commonly have boat-shaped, alcove-shaped, oval-shaped, and horseshoe-shaped backlights. These murals are characterized by their fine shapes, rich patterns, emphasis on symmetry, strong colour contrast and harmony, and they give people a sense of elegance and solemnity.

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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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