Drepung Monastery

Drepung Monastery is actually a collection of Buddhist chapels and colleges located about 8km west of Lhasa. The word Drepung can be literally translated as "rice pile", a name whose meaning becomes clear when you see the white-walled buildings scattered along the hill. Originally founded in 1416, the monastery in its heyday was home to 10,000 monks (around 1600). In 1530, the second Dalai Lama built his palace here, known as the Ganden Palace, which was used until the fifth Dalai Lama built the Potala.

Besides the Ganden Palace, the Drepung Monastery buildings also include the tsogchen (the main hall). This is the most important structure of the Monastery. It contains several chapels, of special note are the Chapel to the Maitreya Buddha and chapels to local Tibetan protection goddesses known as Tara.

The Colleges of Drepang include the Ngagpa (focused on Tantric study), the Loseling (devoted to the study of logic and the largest of the colleges), and two other, lesser colleges. Monks are allowed to join a college based on their place of birth. This ages old "rule" gives each of the colleges an regional flair.

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