After lunch, Sangzhu drove us to Samye village where we would visit the famous Samye Monastery and stay the night. We took a short break at Samye Monastery Hotel before heading over to the monastery. We followed its enclosure wall to reach the main entrance of the monastery complex. Beyond the enclosure, we arrived at a large open space with buildings spread out here and there. At first glance, we couldn’t comprehend the building arrangement within the enormous monastery ground. Not until we reached the higher levels of the main building and looked down, then we came to realize the concentric layout of this famous monastery. First constructed in the 8th century, Samye Monastery is known as the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.
We walked over to the main building’s forecourt, which was dominated by three tall prayer flag poles and incense burners, and started our monastery tour at the main building. The monastery is laid out in shape of a giant mandala with buildings positioned according to the Buddhist cosmology.
Situated at the very centre of the site, the main building is the tallest building in the complex, representing the mythical Mount Meru, the sacred cosmological mountain at the centre of the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain universe.
Before entering the main building, there was an interesting sign about the risk of fire.
We entered the inner courtyard of the main building through a beautifully decorated gateway.
At the gateway, we bought our admission tickets from an old man.
The inner courtyard was actually a cloister surrounded by colonnades and prayer wheels.
Behind the row of prayer wheels, there were Buddhist murals on the walls.
Unfortunately many murals were vandalized during the Cultural Revolution.
At the far corner of the cloister, we found the famous white rooster. According to legends, once upon a time there was a fire broke out during midnight. Luckily all monks escaped unharmed because a white rooster woke them up just in time.
We headed up to the upper level via a steep wooden stair.
We reached the highest level of the main building after climbing several flights of steps. On the highest levels, we could admire the scenery at all four directions.
Many pilgrims left behind offerings at different parts of building, such as leaving money at the joint of wall panels.
Looking out from the top level of the main building, we could see the distant mountains and the spectacular chortens at the four directions. The scattered buildings in the monastery ground actually symbolize the four continents at the cardinal directions, and also the sun and moon.
Walking down the main building, we reached the lower roof terrace, which offered us another look at the magnificent main building of Samye Monastery.
At the monastery ground, there were minor restoration work going on here and there.
We spent the second half of the visit wandering in the open spaces, and climbed up one of the four chortens.
On the red chorten, we enjoyed a beautiful view of the main building under the late afternoon sun.
Before sunset, we walked to the enclosure wall of Samye Monastery.
We walked part of the kora route, following pilgrims who turned every single prayer wheel in the clockwise direction.
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More blog posts on Tibet 2017:
JOURNEY ABOVE THE CLOUDS, Tibet 2017 (西藏之旅2017)
DAY 1: TOUCHDOWN ON THE ROOF OF THE WORLD, Lhasa
DAY 1: TRICHANG LABRANG HOTEL (赤江拉讓藏式賓館), Lhasa
DAY 1: KORA AT BARKHOR STREET (八廓街), Lhasa
DAY 2: FIRST GLIMPSE OF POTALA (布達拉宮), Lhasa
DAY 2: KORA OF DREPUNG MONASTERY (哲蚌寺), Lhasa
DAY 2: DREPUNG MONASTERY (哲蚌寺), Lhasa
DAY 2: JOKHANG MONASTERY (大昭寺), Lhasa
DAY 2 : SPINN CAFE (風轉咖啡館), Lhasa
DAY 2: NIGHT VIEW OF POTALA (布達拉宮), Lhasa
DAY 3: POTALA PALACE (布達拉宮), Lhasa
DAY 3: SERA MONASTERY (色拉寺), Lhasa
Day 4: KORA OF GANDEN MONASTERY (甘丹寺), Lhasa
Day 4: GANDEN MONASTERY (甘丹寺), Lhasa
DAY 4: TEA HOUSE AND FAMILY RESTAURANT, Lhasa
DAY 5: ON THE ROAD IN TIBET
DAY 5: MORNING IN SHANNAN (山南)
DAY 5: SAMYE MONASTERY (桑耶寺), Shannan
DAY 5: SAMYE TOWN (桑耶鎮), Shannan
DAY 6: YAMDROK LAKE (羊卓雍錯)
DAY 6: PALCHO MONASTERY (白居寺), Gyantse
DAY 6: WORDO COURTYARD (吾爾朵大宅院), Shigatse
DAY 7: ROAD TO EVEREST BASE CAMP (珠峰大本營)
DAY 7: EVEREST BASE CAMP (珠峰大本營)
DAY 7: STARRY NIGHT, Everest Base Camp
DAY 8: PANG LA PASS (加烏拉山口), Mount Everest Road
DAY 8: SAKYA MONASTERY (薩迦寺)
DAY 9: TASHI LHUNPO MONASTERY, (扎什倫布寺) Shigatse
DAY 9: ROAD TO NAMTSO LAKE (納木錯)
DAY 9: EVENING AT NAMTSO LAKE (納木錯)
DAY 10: SUNRISE AT NAMTSO LAKE (納木錯)
DAY 10: LAST DAY IN LHASA, Tibet
EPILOGUE: FACES OF LHASA, Tibet