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Dratang Monastery

About Dratang Monastery

About 48 km east of Gongkar airport is the turn-off to the 11th-century Dratang Monastery, located 2 km off the main road in the Dranang Valley. This small Sakyapa monastery of only 8 monks is of interest mainly to art specialists for its rare murals, which combine Indian and inner Asian styles. Bring a torch to see the murals.    

The assembly hall has central statues of Dorje Chang and the monastery’s founder, Drapa Ngonshe. Look for the interesting oracle costume and morror in which the oracle would discern his visions. The inner sanctum holds all that remains of the murals, the best of which are on the back wall.    

A side protector chapel is accessed by steps outside and to the left of the main entrance. The chapel has a passage at the back that leads to a rooftop chapel and kora.    

Also worth visiting if you have a particular interest are the ruins of the Jampaling Kumbum, on the hillside a half-hour walk southeast of Dratang, the 13-storey chorten, built in 1472, was one of the largest in Tibet with an attendant monastery of 200 monks before it was dynamited by the Chinese in 1963. Rebuilding efforts are limited to a 2-storey Jampa chapel. Check out the little brass toe on the throne-- all that remains of the original Jampa statue after which the complex was named.

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