When you enter the main building area, its actually an open courtyard and wall surrounding the main hall building. In this surrounding courtyard is a Kora lined with prayer wheels. It is worthwhile to do this kora before entering the main hall. It is not very long. During my kora I came across Monks that were practicing a dance for a festival.As...more
On the drive to Samye from Lhasa you will pass some absolutely incredible scenery. It's hard to believe that at this alitude you pass huge sand dunes in an amazing high altitude desert. It is desolate and bare but the road follows a river which adds some colour to the red and yellows of the sand. About half an hour before you reach Samye you will...more
The protector Chapel, or Gonkhang is entered through a door on the right side of the assembly hall. Inside this chapel there were images of various terrifying anti-gods and demons, most of whom had their faces covered up as they are deemed to be too frightening to be exposed. There was also a strong smell of alcohol in this chapel, as devotees will...more
The Sakyamuni Buddha, whose name literally means ‘sage of the Sakya’, is the founder of Buddhism, the historical Buddha. He is known in Tibetan as Sakya Thukpa. Here he is shown in the form of Jangchub Chenpo, and is flanked on both sides by 10 standing bodhisattvas, as well as the gatekeepers Hayagriva and Acala. Part of the central figure is...more
The dormitories are home to some of the 280 monks who live and practise Buddhism here in Samye.The construction of dwellings in Tibet follow a strict tradition. Most buildings are white, with a black surround to the windows (to attarct the heat from the sun), which is always wider at the bottom than at the top. Window frames are often yellow.more
Samye’s layout is based on Buddhist cosmology, meaning that it is a three dimensional replica of the Tibetan Buddhist universe. The temple complex has been constructed according to the principles of geomancy, a concept which derives from India and was introduced to Samye by the Indian sage Padmasambhava who King Trisong Dretson consulted with in...more
Utse, the main temple. The three storey temple is unusual in its construction, in that the first floor is Tibetan in style (representing the King), the second storey is built in Chinese style (signifying mother) and the third and top level is made in the Indian style (in respect of the two Indian masters who assisted with the design of this...more
Samye Monastery has its own restaurant. The monks eat downstairs and any tourists eat upstairs whilst looking down at the monks. Unfortunately the food here is the same as everywhere else and nothing especially "monky" is served. The menu is fairly extensive and mid range in price. Surprisingly, beer is available in several brands!!more
Although there is a restaurant in the Samye Guesthouse, it required pre-booking in order to cater for groups. We had brought our own picnic with us, which they allowed us to eat in the restaurant. Our picnic, which was prepared and provided for us by the hotel in Zedang, consisted of a chicken pieces, a boiled egg, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, a...more
The most popular route to reach Samye is by boat across the Yarlung Tsangpo river. The boat is not laid on especially for tourists, it is a regular ferry service used by local and travellers alike. We shared a boat with many local people and their large bundles of luggage, ducks, a dead goat in a plastic bag (with feet and head sticking up), mattresses, bags and boxes. There were some great characters on board and the one-and-a-half hour journey offered a fantastic opportunity of people watching.
The journey takes you across and up the river and although the distance it not that great, it is very time consuming as the boatman has to negotiate the strong tide and avoid the many sand banks.
Once you alight the boat the other side, transport awaits to take you to the monastery itself, a journey of some 15-20 minutes. The transport here can take the shape of local buses or open backed lorries. As tourists, we were given first choice of the various forms of transport, and (despite my best efforts to travel in a lorry) secured the more comfortable buses. The journey is very bumpy, on uneven, sandy tracks.
Before you enter the Monastery there is a line of stores on the left that include restaurants, supermarkets and a few stores for buying souvenirs. What is different is that these stores seem to be in a new building and part of the monastery compound. Within the monastery they also sell some souvenirs and they are cheaper but the same thing can be purchased at these stores for slightly more money.
Tibetan New Year - February 18th 2007 / February 7th 2008Butter Lamp Festival - March 4th 2007 / March 26th 2008Saka Dawa Festival - May 31st 2007 / June 18th 2008Shoton Festival - August 12th-18th 2007 / August 30th-September 5th 2008Bathing Festival - Middle ten days of September 2007 / Last ten days of September 2008Ghost-Exorcising Festival -...more
As well as being used to create sculptures, yak butter is also utilised as a fuel for butter lamps. Tibetans burn bowls of yak butter instead of candles as light, and the smell of yak butter is all over Tibet, in every temple, chapel and monastery. The faithful will carry either a thermos flask from which they will top up the burning lamps with...more
Yak butter has a significant use in ceremonies. In particular, the 15th day of the first month is a high point of the Great Prayer Festival (Smom-lam), and is known as the "Butter lamp day." The festival started after Tsong kha-pa had a dream where beautiful flowers and trees appeared in front of Buddha. He commissioned monks to make flowers and...more
Inside the main chapel, you suddenly come face to face with this tourist trap: a souvenir shop! They sell tacky yaks, jewellery, prayer beads, pictures, thankas, books and other things a tourist may – or may not – want.