The Gelugpa is a sect of Tibetan Buddhism in China. Because its monks wear yellow caps, they are called Yellow Sect. The Gelug faction originated in the early 15th century, and the founder Zongkapa(Tsongkhapa)(1357-1419) proposed that monks should strictly observe the precepts, celibacy, and strengthen the management of the monastic system. Although the Gelug Sect is the last created faction in Tibetan Buddhism, it quickly replaced the status of other sects in its rise. In the history of Tibetan social development, it has an important position that no sect can achieve. The well-known reincarnation system of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama was created by the Gelug Sect.

Ganden Monastery: Ganden Monastery was founded in 1409 by Master Tsongkhapa and is the ancestral monastery of the Gelug Sect. Ganden Tripa, the successive masters of the Gelug Sect, lived in this monastery. The Ganden Monastery is located on the Wangbori Mountain at an altitude of 3800 m, occupying almost half of the mountain, and is quite spectacular. The monastery is comprised of over 50 structures and preserves more than ninety memorial pagodas of Ganden Tripa and many relics and handicrafts from the Ming Dynasty, such as exquisite murals, sculptures, silk Tangka, and armor from the Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty.

Sera Monastery: The Sera Monastery is located 3 kilometers north of Lhasa. There are two sources of its name: One said that the monastery underwent a fierce hail when the foundation was laid, and the hail is pronounced “sera” in Tibetan. The name is “Sera Monastery”, which means “Hail Temple”; another said that the temple was built in a place where wild rose flowers are blooming. The Tibetan word for wild rose is also called “sera”, so it is named Sera Monastery.

Drepung Monastery: Situated about ten kilometers from the western suburb of Lhasa, Drepung Monastery, built-in 1416, is known as the most important monastery of the Gelu Sect. Together with Ganden and Sera Monastery, it is called the three major monasteries of Lhasa. As the largest monastery of Tibetan Buddhism, covering an area of 250,000 square meters, its white construction looks like a huge heap of rice in the distance. That is the reason why this monastery is called Drepung which means “collecting rice” in the Tibetan language. As the mother monastery of the Dalai Lama, it played an important role in the development of Tibetan history and Buddhism. Today, Drepung Monastery is still the influential Buddhist College for monks to study classic Tibetan Buddhism.

ABC’s of the sites


Ganden Monastery

Sera Monastery

Drepung Monastery

Chinese name 甘丹寺 色拉寺 哲蚌寺
Opening time 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Entry ticket 40 RMB/per 50 RMB/per 50 RMB/per
Duration of visit 2-3 hrs 2-3 hrs 2-3 hrs

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