Ganden Monastery is attainable
on a day trip from Lhasa. It lies
45km east of Lhasa, on the Sichuan
highway. It is the most dramatically
situated of the main temples near
Lhasa, high up on the ridge.
The Ganden Monastery was
the first monastery of the Gelugpa
Sect of Tibetan Buddhism (also known
as the Yellow Hat Sect) and remains
the power center of this sect today.
It was founded in 1417 and the successive
leaders of this sect have come to
be known as the Ganden Tripa, a post
earned through scholastic achievement.
The Dalai Lama is the most famous
member of this sect.
The word "Ganden"
means "joy" in Tibetan and
is also the name for the "western
heavens" where the Maitreya Buddha
(the Future Buddha) resides. Ironically,
this Monastery was heavily damaged
during Cultural Revolution bombings,
making the place somewhat depressing.
However, work is underway to repair
the damaged buildings of the monastery,
so that Ganden Monastery is being
quickly restored to its must-see status
as one of Lhasa's most impressive
monasteries. Seek out the Golden Throne
Room of the Dalai Lama. Placed upon
the throne, there is a cloth bag containing
his yellow hat that he left behind
in his escape to exile in India.
There are many burial
stupas on the grounds of the Monastery,
the most noteworthy of which is the
Tomb of the Tsongkhapa, the founder
of the Gelugpa Sect. The Tsongkhapa's
preserved body used to sit meditatively
in the stupa, but the body was destroyed
during the Cultural Revolution. All
that remains today are a few enshrined