Samding monastery is located on the top of a steep mountain in the southwest of Yamdrok lake. It belongs to the Shangpa Kagyu of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist monastery with history of more than 300 years. Since the creation of Samding monastery, after the continuous expansion of the second, 5th and 9th Dorje Pakmo, 15 halls were gradually been built, surrounded by grassland, rivers with beautiful scenery.
The Shangpa Kagyu was once very prosperous, but declined after the 15th century. Nowadays, Samding Monastery is the only one reamined with tradition of Shangpa Kagyu Sect. According to “An Investigation of the Origin of the Tibetan Monk”, “Sanding Monastery had been converted to a Gelugpa monastery in Qing Dynasty, and the female living Buddha is also listed in the ten small Hutuktu. The only female living Buddha in Tibet, Samding·Dorje Pakmo, was the master of the monastery. Samding monastery has a special status among the various sects of Tibetan Buddhism.
There were 6 monks only when the temple was first built.During the period of Kashag Administration, the female living Buddha in the monastery was once granted the position of fourth grade monk official. In the 18th century, there were 80 monks and nuns. At the beginning of this century, there were nearly 200 monks, but they continued to decrease.
Reincarnation and Female Living Buddha
The temple is inherited from the reincarnated female living Buddha and is also the only female living Buddha in Tibet today. The Reincarnation has been passed down for 12 generations. Among them, the second living Buddha was the niece of the 6th Panchen Lama Lobsang Baidain Yexe, and now it is the 12th living Buddha Dorje Pakmo·Dechen Chokyi Gonme.
Samding monastery accepts monks and nuns, the abbot is a female living Buddha， whose name is Dorje Pakmo meaning “Vajra Varahi”; The statue of Vajra Varahi is with one face and two arms, the face is red, showing passion and admiration. Has three eyes and wears a skull crown. Both hands hold the ritual instruments, the right hand holds the moon-shaped knife, and the left hand holds the human skull bowl. The bowl is filled with blood for offering to the deity. Her left leg stretched out to be flush with the main deity’s right leg, and her right leg was wrapped around the main deity’s waist. “Vajra Varahi” is companion of Cakrasamvara
“Vajra Varahi” decorated with 50 human skulls, symbolizing the 50 letters of Sanskrit; she also decorated with rosary beads made of bones, symbolizing the six ways of liberation: generosity, precepts, patience, diligence, meditation and wisdom.
There are different opinions about the time when Samding monastery was built. According to the “History of Religious Origins”, Samding monastery founded by by Kezun Xunzhu, the disciple of the fourth generation of Shangpa Kagyu founder Kyungpo Naljor (also Qiongbo Nanjue); the other is that it was established by Bodong Ramgyal(1375-1451） in the early 15th century. Samding monastery is a monastery shared by monks and nuns. It is abbotted by the only female living Buddha in Tibet. And she is female deity who had a more complicated personality. In the Kagyu Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, she is the head of the female deity. Marpa, Mirarepa, Gampopa and other great achievers rely on her as the deity.
When the Mongolians entered Tibet in the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271-1368), Samding monastery was destroyed, and the temple was destroyed again when the British army invaded Tibet in the 30th year of Guangxu of Qing Dynasty (AD 1904), some cultural relics in the temple were looted. Later, a certain scale of restoration was carried out.
In 1959, Samding monastery still had 15 sutra halls and 75 monks left, and a large number of attached monasteries. During the “Cultural Revolution”, Buddhist scriptures, statues, pagodas and valuable cultural relics belonging to the monastery were taken over by the Langkazi local authority, and some of them were scattered in the countryside.
After 1983, most of the cultural relics were returned, and the hall of Tsu Lakhang and the Protector hall were restored.
In 1986, With government funding the monstery was renovated and opened to the public. Now, The size of the monastery is about 1200 square meters including monk’s dormitory, and more than 20 monks.
From the appearance, the architectural style of Samding monastery is quite similar to the Potala Palace, including the Red Palace and the White Palace.
In 1998, it was listed as a county-level cultural relics protection unit.
Nowadays, Samding monastery is still very popular in local tibetan community. Although the monastery is on the top of the mountain and the road is not good, however, there are still many pilgrims comnig to make cora and pray
10 km south of Langkazi county
09:00 am – 17:00 pm
RMB 30 per person
How to get Samding Monastery
Samding monastery is built on a hill on the peninsula, and it extends about 10 kilometers east of Yamdrok Lake. It is located 110 kilometers southwest of Lhasa , under administered by Langkazi county
There is no direct bus-line to this site, however, there are scheduled buses travel between Lhasa to Gyantse county passs by Langkazi county, from which you can hire local vehicle to transfer to this site.
The below are listed two ways to get to Samding monastery
-Option 1), By chartered vehicle Departing from Lhasa, it usually costs RMB 1,000-1,500.00 per day for a 4-6 seats mini van
-Option 2), By bus starting from Lhasa, Terminal: Langkazi county ; then by local mini bus to this monastery,