Pabongka Monastery (Pabongka means ‘giant stone palace’ in Tibetan language) is situated about 9 km away from west of Sera Monastery, in north of Lhasa city. The shape of the huge stone in Pabongka is like a turtle and forms a unique style of this ancient monastery. Pabongka Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries around Lhasa, built in the 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo. It is said that before the construction of Jokhang Temple, King Songtsen Gampo had meditated here and then he presided the construction of the place. The cave under the huge stone was the place he had meditated, and people said that the mound in the cave was the seat of Songtsen Gampo. According to records of Tibetan history, the palace was built by nine layers high. This was the highly praised ‘Marubao Palace’ in Tibetan history. It was not only the place where Songtsen Gampo received foreign envoys but also the birthplace of Tibetan language. Therefore, the Pabongka Palace had once been rewarded as ‘the First Palace of Lhasa’.
Besides the cultural background of Pabongka Monastery, it is now more likely to be the starting point of a popular trekking tour in Lhasa. This Pabongka to Sera monastery trekking is a short trekking trail that only have one day hiking. The trail connects the two place through other small monasteries, nunneries and heritages along the way. During the trekking, you will be embraced by the amazing natural views and take a bird view of the whole Lhasa city. If you have one more day in Lhasa, consider to add it into your schedule.