Drepung Monastery

Prior to the late 1950s, Drepung was the largest monastery of Tibet – and in fact the largest in the world, hosting between 7,000-10,000 monks. Drepung was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Chojey, one of Je Tsongkhapa’s most learned disciple. From its early days, Drepung was a major scholarly center, known for the high standards of its academic study program. Drepung’s buildings remained intact throughout the 1950s cultural revolution, but the monastery now only hosts a much smaller number of monks. Drepung houses the Ganden Palace – the residence of the early Dalai Lamas, elaborately painted and decorated assembly and chanting halls, and many treasures and relics. The main assembly hall contains a huge sutra collection and a gold-gilded 49-ft tall statue of Maitreya Buddha.