Your current position: Home > City Guide > Lhasa

Sera Monastery

 Sera lies on the northern edge of Lhasa at the base of Tatipu Hill. Sera means Merciful Hail, denoting its rivalry with the Rice Heap (Drepung), since hail destroys rice. Sera was smaller than Drepung, with 7,000 monks, but very rich and comparable in power. Today it has about 300 monks, and some of its buildings house a farm.

Sera was founded in 1419 by one of Tsong Khapa’s eight disciples. It became famous for its tantric teachings, while Drepung drew fame from its governing role. The monks of Sera were considered clever and dangerous. Its small army of warrior-monks, the dob-dobs, were admired as athletes but feared. Sera’s rebelliousness sometimes posed a threat to the state. In 1947, its leaders planned to kill the regent and install a rival. The plot failed, but witnesses recount that shops in Lhasa were barricaded and the nobles armed their servants for fear of rampaging monks.
A central lane and fairly simple layout make Sera easy to visit. Stalls by the main gateway sell soft drinks and snacks. A long driveway leads up to the monastery. Sera had three colleges similar to those at Drepung, but the chanting halls and chapels seem dark, heavy and more awe-inspiring.
Next the west side of the lane is the chanting hall of Sera Je College. Its holy west chapel contains an awesome, horse-headed demon-god, Hayagriva, whose origins go back to the pre-Buddhist Bon religion.
Next to this building is the Debating Garden. Monks can be seen preparing for monastic examinations by staging mock debates in the ritual way. Some sit cross-legged under the trees, while others run from group to group giving vigorous hand-claps to end a statement or make a point. Master and dignitaries sit on the raised tiers when a real examination takes places. In Tibetan Buddhism, the debating garden is the whetstone on which the mind is sharpened, and the importance of the institution can not be stressed too strongly. Years of study, memorization, meditation and intellectual struggle produce monks with outstanding abilities who keep alive a profound religious tradition. 
Sera’s rock painting are on the east mountainside. Notable are a blue Yamantaka with Prajna, Tsong Khapa above and Sera’s first abbot, Sakya Yeshe, at the top. From here you can enter the Assembly Hall (Tsokchen) at roof level and, in an east chapel, find the greatest treasure of Sera-a gilded Chenrezi with hundreds of hands and eyes. A colossal Maitrya can be seen from both the roof and the chanting hall.
Across the lane, Ngagpa College has many interesting objects, but the chanting hall of Sera Me College down the hill is truly remarkable. It has the best vestibule murals anywhere, its Wheel of Life being particularly noteworthy.

Related articles

Potala Palace
Potala Palace Potala Palace was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. It is now a museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jokhang Temple
Jokhang Temple Included on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 2000 as part of the Potala Palace , the Jokhang Temple is located in central Lhasa. With an area of 25,100 square meters (about six acres), it is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Pilgrims.
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery Drepung Monastery (literally “Rice Heap” monastery) lies in west of Lhasa under Mt. Gambo Utse. Built in 1416, it is considered as one of the largest monasteries in the six principle monasteries of Gelu Sect. Drepung was known for the high standards of its academic study.
Norbulinka Summer Palace
Norbulinka Summer Palace The Norbulingka, meaning Jewel Park, lies three kilometers (two miles) west of the Potala, built from 1755. It served as the traditional summer residence of the successive Dalai Lamas from the 1780's up until the 14th Dalai Lama's exile in 1959. Part of the "Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace", Norbulingka is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ganden Monastery
Ganden Monastery Ganden Monastery is one of the 'great three' Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet, located at the top of Wangbur Mountain, Tagtse County, 36 kilometers from the Potala Palace in Lhasa, at an altitude of 4,300m. Its full name is Ganden Namgyal Ling. Ganden means "joyful" and is the Tibetan name for Tuṣita, the heaven where the bodhisattva Maitreya is said to reside. Namgyal Ling means "victorious temple".
Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street Barkhor is an area of narrow streets and a public square in the old part of the city located around Jokhang Temple and was the most popular devotional circumambulation for pilgrims and locals. The one-kilometer-long street's path is deep, silent along with Tibetan style architecture that filled the air with profound ancient culture. About 6,000 people are now living along Barkhor Street. Business is quite busy here and tourists at home and abroad are curiously searching exotic stuffs.
Have a question?
Full Name *:
Email Address *:
Your message to Us :

Recommend other popular Tibet tours

North Everest Base Camp Tour in 8 Days
North Everest Base Camp Tour in 8 Days Lhasa / Gyantse / Shigatse / EBC Most popular Everest Base Camp adventure tour begins in Lhasa with its historic architectural monuments and monasteries. This tour includes all of the best sights, sounds, and smells Tibet has to offer. The expedition to the great Mt. Everest, one of earth’s most remote corners, could also give you a chance to view the sunrise and sunset there. You can do nothing but feel marvel for the nature’s masterpiece. 8 Daysfrom: $800
Overland Tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu in 7 Days
Overland Tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu in 7 Days Lhasa / Gyantse / Shigatse / EBC / Kathmandu Travel from Lhasa to Kathmandu via Everest Base Camp adventure tour includes featured historic sites and natural beauty in Tibet. Taking a ‘heart beating’ walk at the Everest Base Camp, gazing at the mysterious north face of mighty Mt. Everest, watching the snowcapped majestic Himalayan mountain range passing by, you will feel the power of the nature and your spirit will be cleansing. That’s the meaning of travelling in Tibet! 7 Daysfrom: $950
Mout Kailash Pilgrimage in 15 Days
Mout Kailash Pilgrimage in 15 Days Lhasa/Gyantse/Shigatse/EBC/Lake Monasarovar/Kailash Mt. Kailash is the most sacred place in Tibet, every year, many people make a pilgrimage here, they believe circumambulating it will bring good fortune. This group tour covers all the must seeing places and scenic spots in Tibet, which is very similar to our 8 Days’ Mt. Everest tour, but it drives further to the wild northern part. Join this spiritual tour to follow the pilgrim to experience a different Tibet! 15 Daysfrom: $1850
Plan your Tibet tour with our travel consultants We will get back to you within 24 hours INQUIRE NOW