List of Tibetan monasteries

This list of Tibetan monasteries is a listing of historical and contemporary monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism within the ethno-cultural Tibet itself and elsewhere. Tibetan monasteries are works of architectural, pictorial, decorative and landscape art.[1] The beautiful frescoes[2] paintings painted on silk and different textiles, the perfection of the fine forms depicted with the most accurate precision are unique monuments of world cultural heritage.[3][4][5] Exceptional craftsmanship in woodcarving and Tibetan tantric texts leave the viewer breathless. Each millimeter of the Tibetan texts on which Tibetan priests learn. From them, they have a beauty and grace that can be compared to the most perfect calligraphic masterpieces known to man. Since ancient times, the snowy temples in Tibet have been places of wisdom, knowledge and inspiration for all laymen, regardless of their religion.[6]

The places where the monasteries rise are unique, because they are the most sacred places for people not only from Tibet but also from the whole Himalayan ridge. These are places filled with deep history and have an important historic weight for the history of Asia.[7] The beauty of these places is so irresistible that if an artist decides to describe it, he will not be able to. The colors of the landscape change constantly in emerald, snowy white to light blue and diamonds. The Tibetan Plateau and its colors are the most difficult to recreate by the artists. Colors in this region are extremely complex and difficult to draw.

Name Location Tradition Established Destroyed Note
Alchi Ladakh Gelug 11th century
Badekar Monastery Bugat, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Gelug 1749
Chaksam Cho Ri Chushul, U-Tsang 14th century Destroyed in 1959 from Chaksam Bridge diagram made in 1878
Dorje Drak Lhoka Nyingma 1400, 1720, 1960s in India 1717, 1960s One of the six "Nyingmapa mother monasteries."
Drepung Lhasa Gelug 1416 Home monastery of the Dalai Lama. Founded by Jamyang Choje. Drepung was historically the largest monastery in Tibet as well as the largest in the world until the Communist Chinese invasion.
Drigung Lhasa Prefecture Kagyu 1179, 1980s 1960s
Dzogchen Kham Nyingma 1684 One of the six "Nyingmapa mother monasteries."
Ganden Lhasa Prefecture Gelug 1409 1959, 1966 Seat of the Ganden Tripa. Founded by Tsongkhapa in 1409.
Gonchen Monastery Kham Sakya 1729
Gongkar Chöde Lhokha Sakya 1464
Gyumay and Gyuto Lower and Upper Tantric Colleges Tsang Gelug 1433 and 1475 [8]
Hemis Ladakh Drukpa 1672
Jokhang Temple Lhasa Gelug 652 Severely Damaged by Communist Chinese People's Liberation Army in March, 1959 Lhasa main temple. Said to have been built by King Songtsen Gampo in 647; a major pilgrimage site.
Jonang Phuntsokling Monastery Tsang Jonang 14th century
Kardang Lahaul Drukpa 12th century Main monastery in Lahaul.
Karma Gön Monastery Kham Kagyu 1147 Seat of the 1st to the 7th Tai Situpa
Katok Garze Nyingma 1159 One of the six "Nyingmapa mother monasteries".
Keru Temple Ü Nyingma mid-8th century
Kharchu Monastery Lhokha Nyingma 16th century
Khomthing Monastery Lhokha
Khorshak Temple Western Tibet
Kirti Gompa Amdo Gelug 1472
Kumbum Monastery Amdo Gelug 1583
Labrang Monastery Amdo Gelug 1709 Was founded in 1709 by the first Jamyang Zhaypa, Ngawang Tsondru.
Magur Namgyal Ling Amdo Gelug 1646[9]
Menri Ü Bön 1405 1386, 1966
Menri Monastery Tsang
Mindrolling Lhokha Nyingma One of the six "Nyingmapa mother monasteries."
Nalendra Monastery Penpo [10]
Namdzong Nunnery Amdo
Namgyal Monastery Lhasa
Nangshi Monastery Ngaba, Amdo
Narthang Monastery Tsang
Nechung Temple Lhasa
Ngor Temple Ü Sakya 1429 1959[11]
Nyethang Drolma Lhakhang Temple Ü
Pabonka Hermitage Lhasa Gelug 7th century Independent before 1959, has belonged to Sera since 1980.
Gyantse Palkor Chöde Monastery Tsang
Palpung Derge Kagyu 1727 Founded by the 8th Situ Panchen, Seat of the Tai Situpa and Jamgon Kongtrul.
Palyul Palyul Nyingma One of the six "Nyingmapa mother monasteries". Other branch "Namdroling Monastery" established by Penor Rinpoche in India, in 1963
Pomda Monastery Baxoi
Punakha Dzong Bhutan Drukpa Winter home of the Central Monk Body
Ralung Monastery Tsang
Ralung Drukpa Seat of the Gyalwang Drukpa
Ramoche Temple Lhasa
Rato Dratsang Karnataka Gelug Formerly on the outskirts of Lhasa, but now re-established in south India.
Ratö Monastery Ü
Reting Ü Gelug
Riwoche Kham Kagyu Seat of the Taklung Kagyu lineage.
Rongwo Gönchen Monastery Amdo
Sakya Tsang Sakya Seat of the Sakya Trizin.
Samye Monastery Ü 775 - 779
Samye Nyingma First monastery in Tibet, established by Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita. Heinrich Harrer in 1982 flew over "Samye; it was totally destroyed. One can still make out the outer wall, but none of the temples or stupas survives."[12]
Sekhar Guthok Monastery Lhokha [13]

1950 photo of Sekhar Gutog (sras mkhar dgu thog) monastery in Lhodrag by Hugh Richardson. Founded by Milarepa in the 11th century[14]

Sanga Monastery Lhokha
Sera Lhasa Gelug One of the largest monasteries in Tibet, containing numerous colleges. Founded by Chöje Shakya Yeshe. [[:|Photo of smashed statues pieces at Lhasa's Sera Monastery destroyed by the Communist Chinese after 1959 flight of the 14th Dalai Lama to exile in India.]]
Shalu Tsang Sakya
Shechen Kham Nyingma One of the six "Nyingmapa mother monasteries".
Simbiling Monastery ...
Spituk Ladakh Gelug
Surmang Monastery Kham 1988
Surmang Kagyu Seat of the Trungpa tülkus.
Tabo Spiti Gelug Largest monastery in Spiti.
Taklung Monastery Ü
Taktsang Monastery Dzoge, Amdo
Tashichho Dzong Thimphu Drukpa Houses the Central Monk Body in summer.
Tashilhünpo Tsang Gelug Seat of the Panchen Lama. Founded by Gyalwa Gendün Drup.
Tholing Monastery West Tibet
Tibet Institute Rikon Rikon, Switzerland Nyingma Since 2007, the monastery comprises representatives of all four great traditions : Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug.
Tingri Monastery Tsang
Tradruk Temple Lhokha Gelug The largest, oldest and most important monastery in the Yarlung Valley. Said to have been built by King Songtsen Gampo.
Trathang Monastery Lhokha
Tsandan Monastery Nagchu
Tsaparang Monastery & Palace Complex Western Tibet
Tsethang Monastery Lhokha
Tsö Monastery Amdo
Tsozong Gongba Nyingma
Tsurphu Ü Kagyu Seat of the Gyalwa Karmapa.
Yama Tashikyil Rebkong, Amdo
Yarchen Gar Nyingma 1985 Largest monastery in the world +10000 monks.
Yarlung Sheldrak U-tsang Gelug 18th century "Yarlung Sheldrak is a monastic community that first developed around a Padmasambhava meditation cave, possibly as early as the eighth century. It was converted to the Geluk tradition in the nineteenth century."[15]
Yemar Temple Tsang
Yerpa Gelug 600–700 1959 Famous meditation site of King Songtsen Gampo and Padmasambhava; 300 monks lived here in 1959.
Yonghe Temple Beijing Gelug 1700s National centre of Lama administration during Qing dynasty
Yungdrungling Monastery Tsang [16]


  4. Heller, Amy. Tibetan Art. Milan: Editoriale Jaca Book SpA, 1999.
  5. Reynolds, Valrae, et al. From the Sacred Realm: Treasures of Tibetan Art from the Newark Museum. Munich: Prestel Verlag, 1999.
  8. Berzin, Alexander (1991-09-01). "A Brief History of Gyumay and Gyuto Lower and Upper Tantric Colleges". Study Buddhism. Original version published in "Gelug Monasteries." Chö-Yang, Year of Tibet Edition (Dharamsala, India), (1991). Retrieved 2016-06-06.
  10. Berzin, Alexander (1991-09-01). "A Brief History of Nalendra Monastery". Study Buddhism. Original version published in "Sakya Monasteries." Chö-Yang, Year of Tibet Edition (Dharamsala, India), (1991). Retrieved 2016-06-06.
  11. Carnahan, Sumner; Rinpoche, Lama Kunga (1995). In the Presence of My Enemies : Memoirs of Tibetan Nobleman Tsipon Shuguba. Forward by Lobsang Lhalungpa. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers. pp. 18 and 19. ISBN 9781574160444. OCLC 947820220. (page 18 photo caption)- "Ngor Monastery, 1956, before destruction by Chinese Communists." and (page 19 photo caption)- "Ngor Monastery, 1980. The monastery was destroyed by the Chinese during the 'Cultural Revolution.' "
  12. 1912-2006., Harrer, Heinrich, (1985) [1984]. Return to Tibet: Tibet After the Chinese Occupation. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780140077742. OCLC 13856937.
  13. Berzin, Alexander (1991-09-01). "A Brief History of Drug Sang-ngag Choling Monastery". The Berzin Archives. Original version published in "Kagyü Monasteries." Chö-Yang, Year of Tibet Edition (Dharamsala, India), (1991). Retrieved 2016-06-06.
  14. Richardson, Hugh (1950), English: Sekhar Gutog (sras mkhar dgu thog) monastery in Lhodrag near the Bhutan border founded by Milarepa in the 11th century. The famous nine-storeyed tower can clearly be seen on the left. Harvested crops may be seen in the field in the foreground., retrieved 2018-01-14
  15. "Yarlung Sheldrak". Treasury of Lives. 20 January 2018.
  16. Berzin, Alexander (1991-09-01). "A Brief History of Yungdrungling Monastery". The Berzin Archives. Original version published in "Bön Monasteries." Chö-Yang, Year of Tibet Edition (Dharamsala, India), (1991). Retrieved 2016-06-06.
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