Sakya Monastery is a Buddhist monastery situated 25 km southeast of a bridge which is about 127 km west of Shigatse on the road to Tingri in Tibet. It belongs to Sakya County, Shigatse region. Zhong Qu river flows by the monastery, which naturally divided Sakya Monastery into the north and south two temples. In Tibetan, the word Sakya means “gray soil” referring to the weathered gray earth on the Bonbori Hill where the monastery is located.
As the seat of the Sakya (or Sakyapa) school of Tibetan Buddhism, it was founded in 1073, by Konchok Gyelpo, originally a Nyingmapa monk of the powerful noble family of the Tsang and became the first Sakya Trizin. Its powerful abbots governed Tibet during the 13th and the 14th centuries under the overlordship of the Mongol Yuan dynasty after the downfall of the Tibetan Empire until they were eclipsed by the rise of the new Kagyu and Gelug schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
Its Mongolian architecture is quite different from that of temples in Lhasa and Yarlung. The only surviving ancient building is the Lhakang Chempo or Sibgon Trulpa. Originally a cave in the mountainside, it was built in 1268 by dpon-chen Sakya Sangpo in 1268 and restored in the 16th century. It contains some of the most magnificent surviving artwork in all of Tibet, which appears not to have been damaged in recent times.The Gompa grounds cover more than 18,000 square meters, while the huge main hall covers some 6,000 square meters.
As to the great library of Sakya, it is on shelves along the walls of the great hall of the Lhakhang chen-po. There are preserved here many volumes written in gold letters; the pages are six feet long by eighteen inches in breadth. In the margin of each page are illuminations, and the first four volumes have in the pictures of the thousand Buddhas. These books are bound in iron. They were prepared under orders of the Emperor Kublai Khan, and presented to the Phagpa lama on his second visit to Beijing.
There is also preserved in this temple a conch shell with whorls turning from left to right in Tibetan, Ya chyü dungkar, a present from Kublai to Phagpa. It is only blown by the lamas when the request is accompanied by a present of seven ounces of silver, but to blow it, or have it blown, is held to be an act of great merit."
A huge library of as many as 84,000 scrolls was found sealed up in a wall 60 meters long and 10 meters high at Sakya Monastery in 2003. It is expected that most of them will prove to be Buddhist scriptures although they may well also include works of literature, and on history, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, and art. They are thought to have remained untouched for hundreds of years. They are being examined by the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences.
Sakya temple has an important position in Chinese history and Tibetan Buddhist history. It is the first monastery of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism and the central temple of the Sakya school. There are rich historical, religious, architectural and artistic relics in the temple, especially a large number of precious books and murals, comparable to Dunhuang literature art, so Sakya monastery is also known as "the second Dunhuang".
Recommended Tours Including Sakya Monastery
The first station is to visit Qinghai Lake, the largest inland and salt lake in China. Then take the train from Xining to Lhasa, which will take you around 22 hours. You can enjoy the most beautiful landscape of Qinghai-Tibet Railway along the way. Short stay in Lhasa, you will visit Mt. Everest and Namtso Lake to enjoy the breathtaking natural scenery.
Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse - EBC - Saga - Lake Manasarovar - Darchen - Mt Kailash Kora - Guge Kingdom - Ali - Gegye - Gertse - Shigatse - Lhasa