Drigung Til Monastery
Drigung Til Monastery suffered some damage, like other monasteries. However, the damage of monastery is not as severe as others. Thus the shape of the monastery is better than most of the other monastic centers in this part. It has the most famous sky burial site in central Tibet.
The monastery was established in 1167. It serves as the head monastery of the Drigungpa. By 1250 it competed with Sakya for political power. In 1290, the conflict continued. After the conflict, the monastery then devoted itself to the instruction of contemplative meditation. Today, there are about 200 monks live there.
The monastery is located from a high, steep ridge, which overlooks the Zhorong-chu Valley. Following a steep thread of a path, one can make the way up into the monastic complex. However, there is also vehicle access from the eastern end of the valley. From the main courtyard, one can get a 180-degree views of the scenery, which is quite impressive and full of serene stillness.
The main assembly hall marks the most impressive part of the buildings. The central figure of the hall is Jigten Sumgon, who is the founder of the monastery. The statues of Guru Rinpoche and Sakyamuni are to the left. Go upstairs, on the 1st-floor of Serkhang, you can see statues of Jigten Sumgon and his two successors, all wearing red hats. At the foot of the statue, in a slab of rock, there is Jigten’s footprint. From here, you can keep going upstairs to a balcony and a circuit of prayer wheels. There are steps leading to the chortens of two previous abbots.
The monastery kora follows the hill, leading to the main durtro. This is the holiest sky burial site in the Lhasa region. People from the remotest corner travel hundreds of kilometers here, bringing their deceased relatives and bury them in the sky-burial site. According to the tradition, tourists are not welcome to view the sky burials. However, the local monks say that it’s fine to hike up to the site when no sky burials are taking place. It’s possible to see the circular platform of stones, where the bodies are cut up; and the adjacent buildings, where store the shaved hair of the dead. Be cautious if you see the birds are circling, for there may be a sky bury undergoing. It's better for you not to go there.
The kora along the ridge can lead you back down to the monastery. You can ask the monks for the path to the gongkhang. It is the protector chapel which is dedicated to Abchi, the protectress of Drigung. There is one of his statue to the left of the main statue of Jigten Sumgon. Another statue of Abchi riding a horse is to the right of the chapel. This one is next to Tseringma riding a snow lion. And Tseringma is the goddess of Mt Everest. on the left wall of the chapel there is also a pair of yak horns. It is said that Drigung is named after the horns. Another saying is that the name derives from the hillside, which resembles the shape of a yak.
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