A Month in China (Part 8): Labrang Monastery


Before we get started today, I just wanted to announce that we are on the back stretch of this series! Hey, maybe that means that sometime soon I will post something about somewhere other than China. For those of you who have missed any of the parts in the series you can go HERE to check them all out. Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

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After what felt like a lifetime we finally said goodbye to Langmusi. Our next destination was Xiahe in Gansu Province [MAP]. The draw of Xiahe is the Labrang Monastery which was built in 1706 and is a major pilgrimage destination for Tibetans across the Amdo region. It is one of the largest monasteries in the Greater Tibetan area and is one of the six main monasteries of the Gelukpa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism (Land of Snows).

We arrived in the late evening and went on an adventure first trying to find an ATM that worked and second trying to find a place to stay. After wandering for a bit we accomplished both of those tasks before grabbing dinner and settling in for the night. We woke up in the morning, grabbed a bite for breakfast and then made our way to the monastery. The one disappointing thing about the monastery is that, unlike any of the others we had visited so far, you could only explore the main grounds as part of a tour group. I assume they do this to protect the Monastery which is totally understandable, but it was a little disappointing that we could go anywhere we wanted. We signed up for a tour and then milled about for a bit waiting for the start.

These men were actually rebuilding the walkway near the entrance to the monastery.

The tour was fairly interesting, there was a bunch of history sprinkled in as well as walks through some of the more important temples. I wish I could remember all of the information they told us but that just didn't happen. One building I do remember is the one where they kept all of the butter, yes butter, sculptures. This was basically just a big room with hand carved sculptures of some of the buddhist deities, very cool and very impressive.

After the tour we decided to do our own thing. We walked around town a bit, took a class on making momos (Tibetan dumplings, sorry no photos) then decided to walk up the hill across from the monastery to get a better look before doing the whole kora (circuit around the monastery) ourselves.

I would have loved to stay another day and explore more because Xiahe is an amazing town full of life. Unfortunately, we had a bus to catch the next day to get us to Rebkong (Tongren) in time for the Klurol festival. Tune in next time for photos of that festival, something unlike anything you have probably ever seen (unless you are my family, who have all see most of these photos any way).

Until the next time,

Ian

As a reminder, you can check out and even purchase any of these photos HERE!

Also, if you missed any parts of this series you can check out the whole list HERE.

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