Sera Monastery

Sera Monastery

One of Lhasa's “great three” monasteries, Sera is a Gelug university monastery where monks enter training to expand their philosophical knowledge. Set in the hills just north of the city, Sera was once home to over 5000 monks but after the 1959 revolt and the departure of the Dalai Lama, Sera suffered great damage and a great number of monks fled to Mysore in India. Here they have been able to set up a parallel monastery with two colleges and a Great Assembly Hall similar to the original. The monastery today is home to about 10% of the original population. The monastery is best known for the daily debates (not at the weekend) that take place in the debating courtyard between the resident monks. It is a ritual that is considered integral to the learning and understanding of Buddhist doctrine. Each point a monk makes is supplemented by strong gestures, such as claps, pushes and even screams – it is a unique sight to behold. The monastery itself is also well worth a look around, the hallways resplendent with scriptures, statues and murals. 

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Sera Monastery Map

Six Facts About Sera Monastery

Meaning ‘Wild Roses Monastery’, Sera was built in an area full of wild roses.

The three great university monasteries of Tibet are Drepung, Ganden and Sera.

This huge monastery contains three main buildings – the Coqen Hall, Kamcun (dormitories) and zhacangs (Buddhist colleges).

The monastery is located on Serawoze Mountain and was built in 1419.

Visit the Hall of the Goddess of Mercy to see a wonderful exhibition of frescoes.

Monks here are required to study the five volumes of Buddhist classics – this can take up to 24 years!

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