About 48km east of Gongkar airport is the turn-off to the 11th-century Dratang Monastery(扎塘寺), located 2km off the main road in the Drannang Valley. This small Sakyapa monastery of only eight 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 mirror 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 (whose central image is that of a yak’s head) 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 Kumbu, on the hillside a half-hour walk (roughly 1km) southeast of Dartang Monastery. The 13-story chorten, built-in 1472, was one of the largest in Tibet with an attendant monastery of 200 monks before it was destroyed in 1963. Rebuilding efforts are limited to a two-story 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.
To get to Jampaling, walk south out of Dratang Monastery and after a couple of minutes turn left, following a path to the base of the ruins visible on the hillside above.
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