Drigung Til Monastery Tour
Drigung Monastery is a notable monastery in the Lhasa Prefecture, Tibet founded in 1179. High in the Himalayan mountains, the monastery stands at an elevation of 4150m and currently houses 250 to 300 monks.
The monastery (actually Drigungtil Ogmin Jangchubling Monastery (Wylie: ‘Bri-gung mthil ‘Og-min byang-chub gling); also Drikung Thil Monastery)) is named after its location in a valley about 150 km east from Lhasa, in Drigung district, and is the mother monastery of the Drigung Kagyu (Drikung Kargyu) tradition.
It was founded in 1179 by the founder of that tradition, Drigung Kyobpa Jigten-gonpo-rinchenpel (Wylie: ‘Bri-gung sKyob-pa ‘Jig-rten dgon-po rin-chen dpal, also called Kyobpa Rinpoche, 1143-1217). The tradition emphasizes on its founders tantric meditation and Phowa practices.
A tradition in Tibetan Buddhism known as sky burials are commonly performed by monks of the monastery, and it has become one of the more notable aspects of the monastery's culture wherein the bodies of the dead are put out for nature to decompose or for predatory birds to eat. As Buddhists believe in reincarnation, there is no need, in their view, to preserve the corpses.
Drigung Monastery is located 150 kilometers east of Lhasa city. There are two ways of getting there. First, you can take a regular bus to Drigung from the Lhasa eastern bus station and then charter a car to go into the mountains to the monastery. The bus ticket cost CNY25.00 net per person and the car charge is about CNY150.00 net. Few people choose this method not only because of its inconvenience, but also because of the long time it will take. Second, you may charter a car or jeep for the whole day's tour. The price is about CNY1000.00 net to CNY1200.00 net, so we suggest you find someone to share the car and the cost. This way you can go and return in one day. However, please be aware that you have to depart at about 02:00am or 03:00am to see the performance of the sky burials before 08:00am. Also, be forewarned that the road is bumpy for the duration of the 6-hour trip In the afternoon, you can bathe at the hot spring before returning to Lhasa.
It is said that there are three sky burial stages in the world--one in India, one at Samye Monastery, and one at Drigung Monastery. Among them, the stage at Drigung Monastery is the biggest and highest one.
According to legend, the soul of a person who has undergone Abhiseka (consecration by pouring water on the head) by a living Buddha, will leave the body after death and go to heaven rather than hell. Thus, many people bring the bodies of their deceased relatives here for celestial burial in spite of the long distance. When observing the performance, get permission from the relatives of the deceased before taking a photo, and obey the local customs. View the proceedings quietly and respectfully. The entrance fee for Drigung Monastery is CNY15.00 net per person.
Drigung Monastery is the mother monastery of the Drigung Kagyu tradition. It was founded in 1179 by Kyobpa Rinpoche. The buildings at the monastery were almost destroyed during wars in the past, but were restored afterward. Today, there are more than 300 monks in the monastery. Standing between cliffs high in the mountains, the monastery looks strangely magnificent from a distance.
After visiting Drigung Monastery, drive southwest for about 7 kilometers to reach Dezhong, where you will have a chance to try some authentic Tibetan meals with local families. There are also many Sichuan food restaurants in Mozhugongka County. Hidden high in the mountains is a temple named Dezhong Temple which is a famous self-cultivation retreat for nuns.