Labrang Monastery is one of the top ones in preserving and teaching Buddhism. It is a must see place if you want to get to know Tibet an culture. It is located at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain, northwest of Xiahe Town, in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province, The Labrang Monastery (Labulengsi) is a propitious place in the hearts of the Tibetan people; it stands by the Daxia River and faces the Dragon Mountain.
Xiahe Town has a mixed population of Tibetans, Chinese and Hui (a Muslim minority group found in western China). Labrang Monastery is located on the far side of town, in an area where Tibetans make up the majority of the population.
As an important monastery of the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat Sect, the temple was founded about 300 years ago at the peak of the Qing Dynasty. It was built in 1709 by a monk from the nearby village of Ganjia named E'angzongzhe, who was to become the first of the monastery's Living Buddhas (Jiemuyang). Gradually, the temple became Tibetan Buddhism's most important temple outside Tibet.
Buddhism has developed well in this area, and Labrang Monastery is one of the top ones in preserving and teaching Buddhism. Tibetan culture is also well protected here and in the surrounding areas, which is the same as it was hundreds of years ago.
Labrang Monastery, meaning palaces for monks, is one of the six major temples of the Gelukpa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. With six institutes of learning and more than 1000 monks, this temple shoulders the important task of preserving and spreading Tibetan culture.
The Labrang Monastery boasts tens of thousands of Buddha statues of made of gold, silver, copper, and aluminum. There are also statues made of ivory, sandalwood, jade, crystal and clay. These Buddha statues are all lifelike with kind-looking faces, which instill you with a real sense of beauty. In addition, the monastery possesses many Buddha hats and other Buddhist treasures adorned with pearls, jadeite, agate and diamonds.
Layout of the temple
The architectural layout of the Labrang Monastery is Tibetan in style, and the construction patterns are mostly Tibetan, Han, and a combination of both Han and Tibetan styles. The monastery consists of 18 resplendent halls, six prestigious Buddhist institutes (the Institute of Esoteric Buddhism, the Higher & Lower Institute of Theology, the Institute of Medicine, the Institute of Astrology and the Institute of Law), and about 500 bedrooms for both the living Buddhas and ordinary monks. There are two halls that stand out here, the Main Hall and the Shouxi Prayer Hall.
The temple's buildings are all made out of elegantly carved wood, stone and earth. People describe Tibetan houses like this: from the outside you can't find any wood, and from inside not a single bit of earth or stone. The same can be said about the temple, except on a much larger scale. What's also worth mentioning is that the buildings' roofs are covered with a thin layer of gold that shimmers in the sunlight, while the walls are white-a common scene in all Tibetan temples.
The Main Hall bears a horizontal wooden board inscribed with three large Chinese characters, Jue hui si, meaning a temple where self discovery is made. On religious occasions, the hall may hold up to 4,000 people for prayer.
Shouxi Prayer Hall
Of the six prayer halls in the Labrang, the Shouxi Prayer Hall is the largest in size, with a total of six stories rising to 20 meters. Housed within, is a mammoth statue of Sakimonia. The entire hall, with a golden dragon on its roof and silver lions on its walls, is the most grandiose structure here. The White Towers in the northeast and in the northwest stand as symbols of whole construction.