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Songzanlin Monastery

Being the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan, Songzanlin Monastery, also known as Guihua Monastery, is one of the famous monasteries in the Kang region. The monastery is located near Shangri -La County, at the foot of Foping Mountain.

Construction of the monastery began in 1679 and was completed two years later. The monastery seems like a group of ancient castles and is composed of two lamaseries, Zhacang and Jikang. The gilded copper roof endows the monastery with strong Tibetan features and the 108 (an auspicious number in Buddhism) columns downstairs also feature the monastery with characteristics of Han nationality. The main halls in the monastery are magnificent, and on both the left and the right sides are wonderful frescos, depicting Buddhist tales and legends. The inside-halls are exquisite with cloisters running through. The cloisters are all decorated with beautiful sculptures and consummate frescos.

The monastery is full of treasures. There are a lot of golden figures of Buddha josses, golden lamps, Tibetan lections, silver censers and so on. All of these are wonderful collections accumulated from each dynasty. They are precious productions made by people of both Tibet nationality and Han nationality.

Songzanlin Monastery has another alias - 'the little Potala Palace ', so named because the whole monastery is in the traditional style with mysterious atmosphere. In 1679, Dalailama chose this place by divination, and it went on to become the uppermost public place in Yunan which features the particular local characteristics. Annually, the Gedong Festival is celebrated here by the Tibetans. Pious believers, with their knees and foreheads knocking the ground at every step, come here to pray.

The monastery is situated in the high altitude region over 3,300 meters (about 10,827 feet) high. It snows even in August, and has a rainy season that runs from June through September. Therefore, spring and summer are the best seasons for people to visit it.

Bus route: There are autobuses in Zhongdian County which can take you to this beautiful scenic spot directly, and the buses No.3 can also take you there without stop.

Buddhist Trance Dance
 This is a dance performed by young monks at Ganden Sumtseling Gompa, a monastery located north of the city of Zhongdian (Shangri-La) in Yunnan province on the southeastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The dance begins with one monk emerging from the main temple. He performs a routine that initially faces the temple, then faces all the directions of the wind, and then spirals around a central point where there is a dark quilt and wooden square (these symbolize a demon). His dance eventually accelerates and incorporates jumping movements, and in its finale dozens of other monks join in to perform the circular dance around the quilt, until in the end they are all crowded around its center. The dance concludes with couples of monks taking leaps towards the temple, praying towards its entrance, praying away from its entrance, and then jumping inside. Altogether this takes about three hours. The dance is performed annually, during a ritual where the monks dress in elaborate costumes and masks and dance around a large effigy of the demon (rather than a quilt). The purpose of the dance is to contain the angry spirit of the demon, possibly to recreate the Tibetan myth of the subjugation of an angry Himalayan goddess by an Indian monk, which popularized the monk and allowed for the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet.
Tags : Buddhist Buddhism Tibet Tibetan Dance Sumtseling Songzanlin Zhongdian Yunnan China Monk Monastery Religion Shangri-La

Admission Fee: CNY 30
Time for a Visit:
Two hours

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