The Pelkor Chode Monastery(Palcho Monastery) is the main monastery in Gyantse. Pelkhor Choede in Gyantse town is located about 230 kilometers (140 mi) to the south of Lhasa and 100 kilometers (62 mi) to the east of Shigatse. The monastery is a short walk from the heart of the town. The Friendship Highway that connects Kathmandu, Nepal to Lhasa passes through Gyantse.
The grand Sutra Hall was built in the Ming Dynasty jointly initiated and supervised by the 1st Panchen Gelegs Phabzang and the Prince of Dharma Rabdain. It was completed and consecrated in 1425. Besides the main hall, there are the Dharma Hall, Arhat Hall and many other constructions. At the left side of the main hall enshrines an 8-meter tall gilded bronze sculpture of Maitreya. The silk Thangka, 16 arhats’ sculpture, 3-dimensional Mandala, and various sculptures all have a long history and unique style.
The monastery treasures 1,049 sets of ancient Tibetan sutras which are most valuable for studying Tibetan religion and ethnic cultures. The monastery has 17 Datsans (colleges, a unit of religious organization in a monastery) in total in this monastery, which belongs to the Sakya (the major monastery is Sakya Monastery), Kagyu and Gelug (the major monastery is Ganden Monastery) sects of Tibetan Buddhism. It is really rare among the Tibetan monasteries that several sects could coexist under one roof.
The main tower of the monastery was completed in 1436 with the name of One-Hundred-Thousand-Buddha Tower, also called Kumbum (a multi-storied aggregate of Buddhist chapels in Tibetan Buddhism). It is 42.4 meters high and consists of 9 stories from the tower base to the top banner. Taking up 2,200 square meters, the octagonal tower shrinks in size from the base to the top. With 108 doors and 76 niches, each of which hosts a dominant religious figure and mural, the tower is said to enshrine more than 100,000 Buddha statues.
The most popular festival celebrated in the monastery is held on 15 April. It is known as the Saka Dawa festival to commemorate Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism; this day is said to mark his birthday and also the day of his death. On this occasion, five hundred Lamas chant sutras when local people attend. Horse racing and archery festivals are held in the middle of the fourth lunar month.
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