Kirti Gompa is a Tibetan monastery in the Sichuan Providence of China. Located in the Tibetan plateau over 10,000 feet above sea level, the monastery is speckled with incredible statues and structures. Founded in 1472 by Rongpa Chenakpa, and has housed over 2,500 monks, the monastery is famous for its structures. One of these famous structures is the 98 foot tall chorten that houses various chapels on several different floors dedicated to Shakyamuni Buddha, Mahakarunika, and the Three Deities of Longevity. It is easily recognizable by visitors because of its unique structure and white paint. There is also an imposing Assembly hall has 120 impressive pillars. It also contains an impressive 26 foot tall statue of Maitreya.
While the monastery is one of the oldest in China it has also been the target of various governmental attacks. Protests have regularly been organized by local monks and several have self-immolated by setting themselves on fire in front of government complexes. Because of government crack down on the monastery population numbers have declined drastically down to 600 in recent years. In fact, the monastery’s head lama lives in exile in India due to government pressure. The sister monastery for Kirti Gompa is this Indian monastery. In addition, the monastery holds annual ceremonies such as the New Year festival and the Monlam Festival that features the impressive thangka that allows for monks to ‘sun the Buddha’. The thangka was originally held by the First Dali Lama in 1468 and continues to this day.
While tourism is limited to this incredible monastery because of politics, if you have the opportunity to visit the site you will be amazed at its beauty and serenity. Be ready for a major culture shock if you are travelling from western countries, however, as this monastery is completely originally with very few changes since the 15th century.