Tiantang Monastery, its full name “Chorten Tang Tashi Dargyeling” or in short “Tashi Dargyeling“, is located in Tianzhu Township, Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous County, Wuwei City, Gansu Province. It is a Gelug Pa monastery of Tibetan Buddhism.
The architect of Tiantang Monastery combines Chinese and Tibetan. Simply speaking that the Tibetan hall is equipped with Chinese stone lions, the Tibetan-style Buddha statues with inland offertory box
Tiantang Monastery is the first of the 14 monasteries in Tianzhu county. Its predecessor was the Tibetan Bon monastery built during the reign of Emperor Xianzong of Tang Dynasty (806 AD – 822 AD). In its heyday, there were more than a thousand monks, and it was commonly known as the “eight hundred monks in Tashi Dargyeling”. It is well-known in Amdo for its strict discipline, lamas and large scale. The main buildings preserved and reconstructed are: Buddha Shakyamuni Hall, Kalachakra, Dakhang Palace, Manjusri Hall, Great Scripture Hall, Small Potala Palace, Tuyi Hall, Dragon King Hall, Duoshi-Nangqian, Saiyi -Nangqian and so on
In the Hall of Thousand Buddhas, there is a wooden sculpture of Master Tsongkhapa with height of 23 meters.
The cliff behind the monastery is a sacred place for the meditation of Hwarei, a disciple of Tsongkhapa. This monastery is surrounded by peaks and lush forests. The Datong River winds through the front of the monastery. The mountains are clear and the water is beautiful, the climate is humid, and it is very auspicious.
Tianzhu County, where the Tiantang Monastery is located, which was called “Hwarei” in ancient times, meaning “the land of heroes” in Tibetan. Local residents call themselves “Hwarei Gabu”.
In 1936, The first word of “Tian Tang monastery” and “Zhu Gong monastery” were taken to be used naming this county. Gradually evolved to today’s Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous County.
From the late 1950s to the 1970s, Tiantang Monastery was completely destroyed. In 1981, Tiantang Monastery was allowed to reopen, since then it was gradually restored
According to “History of Tianzhu”: In ancient times, an evil dragon broke free from the control of the Dragon Palace and went up the Yellow River, looking for a place of its own.
When it entered the Datong River from the Yellow River, it was very happy to see the beautiful scenery here. Since then, it had been entrenched here, often making waves and harming the world.
Residents nearby call it “Poison Dragon”. For a while, the rich land became eerie and terrifying. People suffered great pains caused by the “poison dragon”.
There was not knowing how many years past. In the Zhizheng period of Yuan Dynasty, the 4th Karmapa Rolpei Dorje of Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism was on his way to Beijing. He spent a night in Tiantang monastery,
When people heard that a living Buddha passed by here, they came to ask the living Buddha to surrender the poisonous dragon in the Datong River for them. The Living Buddha agreed, and asked the monks in the monastery to call out the poisonous dragon. Hearing the sound of the conch, the poisonous dragon thought it was to pay sacrifice of people and animal, so the poisonous dragon emerged from the Datong River and leaped towards the living Buddha sitting on the table with teeth and claws. The Living Buddha stopped the poisonous dragon and said: “The sea of bitterness is boundless, and when you look back, you are on the shore. Hurry up and return to cultivate your heart and soul, and get rid of sin early. The poisonous dragon didn’t listen to the living Buddha’s persuasion at all, but rushed towards the living Buddha with a big mouth open.
Seeing that the poisonous dragon couldn’t realize it, the living Buddha threw the Buddhist beads in his hand and hit the poisonous dragon which was hit to the dust and wanted to struggle. At this moment, the prayer beads turned into 108 pagodas and pressed the poisonous dragon under the pagodas. The poisonous dragon which couldn’t get away asked the living Buddha: “When will the light be visible?” The living Buddha answered: “After 640 years, there will be Buddha’s light visible.”
When people saw 108 pagodas landed, they named the place “Chorten Tang” in Tibetan. The monastery which 4th Karmapa Rolpei Dorje spent the nights was also transfered to be a Kagyu Monastery, and since then, this monastery became very popular. Later, people transliterated “Chorten Tang” as “Chao tian Tang” in Chinese Pinyin, and gradually people also lost the word “Chao”, and simply called “Tian Tang”. This is the origin of the name of “Tian Tang monastery”.
Tiantang Monastery is with a long history. Since the beginning of Tang Dynasty (618 AD－907 AD), the monastery has lasted for more than 1,000 years. During this period, it was destroyed by wars several times, and it was rebuilt and expanded many times. The scale of its buildings has become larger and larger.
During the period of Emperor Xianzong of Tang Dynasty (806 AD – 820 AD), a primitive Bon religion monastery called “Yangzhuang Monastery” was built near Datong River, which was the predecessor of Tiantang Monastery
In the early years of the Yuan Dynasty（1271 AD – 1368 AD）, when the Tibetan Buddhist Sakya·Pandita·Gongga Gyaltsen and his entourage arrived in Liangzhou, with the support of the Mongol rulers, the Sakya sect gained the belief of some local people, so the Sakya sect monastery was built on the basis of the Yangzhuang Monastery, which is called “Sashi Yinggong” in Tibetan.
In the middle of Ming Dynasty (1368 AD – 1644 AD), the Gelug pa of Tibetan Buddhism founded by Tsongkhapa rose in Tibet. In the Tibetan area of “Hwarei” (that is today Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous County), the Gelug pa gradually replaced the Karma Kagyu pa.
In the 20th year of Emperor Yuanshun (1360 AD) of Yuan Dynasty, the 4th Karmapa Rolpei Dorje of Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism passed this place and built 108 Suppressing Dragon Pagodas on the flat land of “Tashi Tang” in front of the monastery. The place where the pagodas were built was named “Chorten Tang”. The original Sakya monastery was converted to a Kagyu pa monastery, and later the monastery was destroyed in war
During the reign of Emperor Chongzhen of Ming Dynasty (1639 AD), the Karma Kagyupa monastery declined. The Gelug pa monk Danma Tschen Gyatso rebuilt the monastery here and led his disciples to learn and practice.
In the 4th year (1647 AD) of Emperor Shunzhi of Qing Dynasty, the 4th living Buddha of Gelug pa Dongke Doju Gyatso (Hotogtu) changed its name, “Chorten Tang” as “Chao tian Tang” in Chinese Pinyin, and gradually people als
o lost the word “Chao”, and simply called “Tian Tang monastery”
In the 9th year (1652 AD) of Emperor Shunzhi of Qing Dynasty, the 5th Dalai Lama Luosang Gyatso passed by on his way to Beijing and bestowed “Tiantang monastery” the name “Tashi Dargyeling” that means “Pagoda Beach Auspicious Revitalization Island”.
Also known as the Great Hall of Insights and the Hall of Thousand Buddhas,
In order to make the light of Tsongkhapa’s wisdom shine on the world forever, in 2002, under the auspices of Doshi Rinpoche, a 35-meter-high Tsongkhapa Hall was built, including a 23-meter-high, 9.52-meter-wide wooden carved gilded Tsongkha statue.
During the carving process of this image, there were miracles such as shining light. There are also 4000 bronze Buddhas and 21 wooden statues in the hall, which are magnificent.
It was founded in 1840 AD by the 9th Dongke Living Buddha (Hotogtu),
Every year in the middle of March of the lunar calendar, a Kalachakra puja is held for building altars and offering offerings.
In addition, there are intensive ritual practice sessions in the sixth month of the lunar calendar, the July Pumingtan super-duty dharma gathering, and the August Shengle practice dharma gathering.
It was built in the early 18th century. It was presided over by the 5th Dongke Living Buddha.
The main hall dedicated to Buddha Shakyamuni, which is more than five meters tall, is a gilded statue made of fragrant clay. The craftsmanship is exquisite and lifelike. There is a Kassapa Buddha relic hidden in the chest.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Xikang Rinpoche added a golden crown to the statue of Buddha and changed it to sambhogakaya Buddha, which is called “Jo” in Tibetan
Tiantang Monastery Data
Address & Contact
Add: Tiantang Town of Tiantang County
Phone: +86 935 315-8135/312-1227
How to get to there
Tianzhu Town is located in the west of Tianzhu County, adjacent to Tanshanling Town in the east, Zhugu Township in Menyuan County of Qinghai Province in the northwest, Datong River in the south facing Jiading Town of Huzhu County of Qinghai Province. It is 98 kilometers away from the county seat.
Route 1. Depart from Lanzhou city, take a 2-hour bus ride from Lanzhou Bus Station (opposite the train station) to Tianzhu County (you can also take a train), and then take a shuttle bus to Tianzhu Monastery for about 3 hours.
Alternatively, You can also take bus from Lanzhou to Huzhu County of Qinghai Province, and then switch to local minibus to Tiantang monastery
Route 2. Depart from Xining City, by local vehicle, about 2.5 hours to reach Tiantang Monastery
Distance from Tiantang monastery
To Wuwei city : 199 km, about 3.5 hours’ drive
To Xining : 117 km, about 2.5 hours’ drive
To Huzhu County: 77 km, about 1.8 hours’ drive
To Lanzhou : 207 km, aboiut 3.5 hours’ drive
Xining Bus Terminal
Add: No.1, Jianguo Rd, Chengdong district, Xining
Phone: +86 971 812-3110
Altitude: 2261 meters
Lanzhou Bus Terminal
Add: No.129, Pinliang Rd, Lanzhou
Phone: +86 931 880-7114
Altitude: 1520 meters
Xining Cao-Jia-Pu Airport
Add: Xining, Cao-Jia-Pu
IATA Code: XNN
Phone: +86 971 813-3333
Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport
Add: Lanzhou, Yongdeng, Zhongchuan County
IATA Code: LHW
Phone: +86 931 816-8913
Xining Train Station
Address: Jian Guo Road, Cheng Dong Distrcit
Phone: +86 971 12306
Altitude: 2261 meters
Lanzhou Train Station
Address: Huochezhan East Road, Chengguan Distrcit
Phone: +86 931 840-0000
Altitude: 1520 meters