Traditionally, Tibet is divided into three provinces namely Utsang, Kham and Amdo. Kham is a historical region of Tibet covering a land area largely divided between present-day Tibet Autonomous Region and Sichuan, with smaller portions located within Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan Provinces of China. Kham also known as Chushi Gangdruk, which means 4 rivers and 6 ranges. Different regions of Kham speaks different dialects and Dege dialects is known as their standard dialects. Some of the earliest and most sacred monasteries are located in Kham regions of Tibet. The sense of religious in these areas are unavoidable.
Top 10 Places of Kham
Conscious Journeys has identified 10 Top monasteries of Kham are ranked by popularity among Buddhist, travellers and Tibet travel companies. We recommend you to include them in your Tibet tour as well. However, there are many other small monasteries that might you interested. It will greatly benefit you to request a customized tour for a truly an authentic Tibet travel experienced led by the best Tibetan guide. Tibet is known for monasticism. After all, visiting Tibet is a once a lifetime trip opportunity for most people and you want to research and prepare ahead of time so you know what to ask to include in your itinerary with a Tibet travel agency.
1. Tagong Monastery
A perfect typical example of Tibetan monastery in the Kham region of Tibet. Tagong is also known as Lhagong in Tibetan. Tagong monastery will take around two hours driving from north west of the Kangding with 110 Km and is at about 3,700m from the sea level. A prominent Sakya monastery is located at the central of the Tagong which give you a sense of Tibetan taste. The town itself is quite pleasant and is built in traditional Tibetan style. Tagong is literally known for scenic grasslands and local Tibetan Buddhist culture. Handsome landscape and the stunning traditional style of Tagong will make your visit worth spending.
2. Dzogchen Monastery
Dzogchen monastery is one of the biggest Nyingmapa sect located in Derge county, Garzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, China and was founded by 1st Dzogcheng Rinpoche, Pema Rigdsin in 1675. Many highly accomplished Buddhist practitioners like Padmasambhava meditated and lived there for long and the Holy Dzogchen Area is renowned as a natural sacred land. Sacred Dzogchen natural mountain caves are worth exploring during your stay in Dzogchen region. Manigango is located 50 km north of Dzogchen and Sershu at 175 km of east Dzogchen. 4 hrs drive from Serchu is Yushu airport.
3. Surmang Dutsi Til Monastery
Surmang Dutsi Til was established by Trungmase in 14th century. He was a disciple of His Holiness The fifth Karmapa. The first Trungpa is called Kunga Gyaltsen and the late 11th Chogyam Trungpa is credited by many as the one who brought Tibetan Buddhism to the West in the early 1970s. He founded Naropa University in Boulder and established over 160 Shambhala Buddhist Centers in the West. Born as Chokyi Sengay in Dege, Kham in 1989, 12th Trungpa Rinpoche was recognized in 1991, at age 2, as the reincarnation of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche by Tai Situ Rinpoche.
4. Wenchen Nunnery
Wenchen Nunnery is located in a remote location south of Surmang Dutsi Til. Under the direction of Karma Senge Rinpoche, the nephew of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and with the support of local nuns and monks, an educational program for children has been established at Wenchen, and also a smaller program at nearby Kyere Monastery.
5. Serta Monastery
Serta is inhabiting world’s largest Buddhist institute Larung Gar. Serta Larung Gar Buddhist Institute was founded by Kenpo Jigme Phuntsok in 1980 with more than thousands of disciples. Kenpo Jigme Phuntsok is renowned for his teaching and wisdom on TIbetan Buddhism. Exploring Serta monastery and eye witnessing Tibetan traditional ritual “ Sky Burial” would be your life time experience.
6. Gonchen Monastery
Gonchen Monastery is one of the largest Sakya Tibetan Buddhism Monastery in Derge founded by Thang Tong Gyalpo in 1385. The main chapel of the monastery is an extensive complex which resulted in it being called the “great monastery”. The monastery has a notable design, with striped walls of white, dark red and gray, colors unique to the Sakya sect in Tibetan Buddhism. Derge Parkhang is just below the monastery.
7. Karma Gon Monastery
Karma Gon Monastery in Chamdo,eastern Tibet was the original monastery of Karma Kagyue Sect during 12nd century by His Holiness The 1st Karmapa. Karma kagyue is one the largest Buddhist sect in Tibet. 1st karmapa is known as Dusum Khenpa which means the knower of past, present and future. Currently the monastery is housing around 100 monks and the monastery was renovated in 2005. The head of karma Gon Monastery is Karmapa.
8. Yachen Monastery
Yachen Monastery is belong to the Nyingmapa sect in Tibetan buddhism is located in bayi county, Garzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, In Sichuan. Its 400km away from west of Chengdu and currently housing 10,000 monks and nuns which makes them the largest monastery in the world. Larung gar is even larger than yachen Monastery and when Larung gar was demolished, monks and nuns of Larung Gar is shifted to Yachen Monastery. Yachen Monastery is one the most sacred and holiest place in the Kham regions of Tibet.
9. Dzongsar Monastery
Dzongsar Monastery was founded in 746 AD and is located in Dege County, Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan. Dzongsar Monastery is Sakyapa sect in Tibetan Buddhism. It was said that Dzongsar Monastery was destroyed in 1958 and renovated in 1983. There were housing around 300-500 monks back then and currently there are couples of hundreds of monks only. Dzongsar Rinpoche is known as Guru Rinpoche by the western Buddhist follower. He is Highly respected by his western follower.
10. Sershul Monastery
Sershul Monastery was established in 1701 with many antiques about 2,000 years history. Sershul Monastery is located in Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture with around 4,000m and is the largest Gelugpa sect in Kham Regions of Tibet. The monastery is locating at the most remote with coldest climate condition. Sershul is housing ten thousands of monks and producing some of the most qualified Buddhist monks with the highest Tibetan Buddhist geshe degree. The monastery also has many valuable sacred relics left by eminent monks after their deaths.