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Labrang Monastery

Labrang MonasteryThe Labrang Monastery is located at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain northwest of Xiahe County in Gannan Tibetan Nationality Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province. The monastery was founded in 1709 by the first Jamyang Zhaypa, Ngawang Tsondru. It is one of the six great monasteries of the Geluk (Yellow Hat) school of Tibetan Buddhism. And it is Tibetan Buddhism's most important monastery town outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

The architectural layout of the Labrang Monastery belongs to the Tibetan style and the construction patterns are mostly Tibetan, Han's mode and a compound style of both Han's and Tibetan. The symbols of the whole construction are the White Towers in the northeast and in the northwest. The grand sutra and Buddha halls are located in the northwestern part centered around the Grand Sutra Hall. Other halls spread in a shape similar to a crescent moon.

The Grand Sutra Hall is the dominant place for the religious activities of the Labrang Monastery and for the adherents' worshipping. On the inside walls there are portraits of Buddha and built-in shrines of Buddha and bookcases. The elegantly decorated hall is splendid enough to give you real enjoyment.

Located in the northwest of the Grand Sutra Hall, the Grand Golden Tile Hall is the highest building in the Labrang Monastery and is strongly tinged with a Nepalese flavor. It is six-storied and the roof is covered with bronze bricks that are washed by gold. In front of the hall gate, hangs a stele on which the Han, Tibetan, Manchu and Mongolian characters were written by the Emperor Jiaqing (1760-1820) of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Inside the hall there is a bronze figure of Buddha created by Nepalese artisans.

The Labrang Monastery boasts tens of thousands of statues of Buddha made of gold, silver, copper, and aluminum. There are statues with ivory, sandalwood, jade, crystal and clay as the basic materials. These Buddha statues are all lifelike with kind faces, which give you a real enjoyment of beauty. In addition, the monastery possesses many Buddha hats and many Buddhist treasures adorned with pearls, jadeite, agate and diamonds. Whole view of Labrang Monastery

In April 1985 the Assembly Hall burned down. It was replaced and the new building was consecrated in 1990. The monastery today is an important place for Buddhist ceremonies and activities. The Labrang Monastery holds seven large-scale summon ceremonies a year, among which the Summons Ceremony in the first lunar month and the Buddhist Doctrine Explaining Ritual in the seventh lunar month are the grandest ones. From 4 to 17 January and 26 June to 15 July (these dates may change according to the lunar calendar), the great Buddhist ceremony will be held with Buddha-unfolding, sutra enchanting, praying, sutra debates, etc.

Accommodation is easy to find and a great variety of articles and souvenirs are available. Although the region is mostly rural and pastoral (including yak and other animal rearing), tourism is growing rapidly mainly due to the monastery.

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