The Tashi Lhunpo Monastery (Tashilhunpo) in Tibet is one of great history and importance to Tibetan Buddhist. The monastery was founded by the first Dalai Lama in 1447 and stretches a massive 3, 229,279 sq. ft. Located in the second largest city of the Tibet Autonomous Region of the Peoples Republic of China, Tashi Lhunpo is both sacred and open. It is visited by millions every year, many of which are pilgrims who journey there seeking spiritual enlightenment. Its history is peppered with both peace and violence. Although the monastery is intended to be a place of meditation and peace, the Tashi Lhunpo monastery has not always been at peace. Over much of its history it has been a target of government intrusion and attacks. In fact, the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s resulted in the destruction of a full two-thirds of the buildings in the monastery. In 1966, the young Red Guards of China charged on the monastery breaking statues and burning scriptures, even breaking into the stupas and throwing relics from the 4th and 5th century into the river. But this did not crush the spirits of the monks residing there. In fact, the 10th Panchen Lama started construction on a new stupa to house the remains of his predecessors, completing the work in 1989 within the same year.
The name Tashi Lhunpo translated means "All fortune and happiness gather here", and for most of its history this has been the case. Visitors can gain a real sense for what the monastery is truly in existence for by touring the main chanting hall. On the left hand side of the hall there are elaborate depictions of the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha. On the right hand side is the carving depiction of the goddess Tara, who sanctifies the mountain and the monastery’s existence there. Being in the presence of the beauty of these statues is a peaceful experience. The fortune of the grounds is well reflected in the Panchen Lama’s Palace. The stupa tomb itself is inlaid with both silver and gold. It also reaches 36ft high and contains over 185 pounds of gold and semi-precious stones. It is a stunning and inspiring example of Buddhist architecture.
The beauty and enchanting splendor could not be better summed up then by the words of Captain Samuel Turner who said, "If the magnificence of the place was to be increased by any external cause, none could more superbly have adorned its numerous gilded canopies and turrets than the sun rising in full splendor directly opposite. It presented a view wonderfully beautiful and brilliant; the effect was little short of magic, and it made an impression which no time will ever efface from my mind." Truly, visiting the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Tibet is a once in a lifetime experience that should not be wasted. It has the power to change a person’s life and outward perspective. If you have the chance to rest your eyes on this peaceful and indescribably beautiful place take it. It will truly be a remarkable experience.