Labrang Monastery is a highly-regarded Tibetan Buddhist monastery situated in Gansu Province, China, specifically in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in Xiahe County. Founded in 1709, the monastery is recognized as one of the six most important monasteries of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. Its rich history and spiritual significance make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Tibetan culture and religion.
- Location: in the northwest of Xiahe County, Gansu Province, China.
- Opening hours: from 09:15-16:30.
- The recommended sightseeing time is 3-4 hours
Overview of Labrang Monastery
It covers an area of around 800,000 square meters and has over 1,000 monks and nuns. The monastery has a rich history and cultural significance. It is known for its unique architecture, colorful murals, sacred scriptures, and precious artifacts.
Labrang Monastery also played a significant role in preserving Tibetan culture and religion. Today, the monastery serves as a popular pilgrimage site and tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the various halls, temples, and courtyards, attend religious ceremonies, and learn about Tibetan Buddhism and culture.
What to See and Do in Labrang Monastery
Walk the World’s Longest Prayer Wheel Circuit
Labrang Monastery is famous for its prayer wheel circuit, which is the longest in the world, about 3 km (2 miles) in total. The prayer wheel circuit is a circular path around the monastery, and it is lined with prayer wheels.
The prayer wheel circuit begins at the main entrance of the monastery, where you can find a large prayer wheel. Turn the wheel clockwise, and then start walking along the path.
Overlook Labrang from Gongtang Pagoda
Gongtang Pagoda is a historic landmark in the southwest of Labrang Monastery. It is located on a hill overlooking Labrang Monastery and offers stunning panoramic views of the monastery and the surrounding landscape. You can see the prayer flags, the golden roofs of the monastery buildings, and the rolling hills in the distance.
Explore the Daily Life of Monks in Labrang Monastery
Visiting Labrang Monastery and exploring the daily life of the monks can be a captivating and enlightening experience. The monastery is the largest Tibetan Buddhist school in China, and it is home to many registered monks and Buddhists who live and study there. To gain a deeper understanding of the daily routines and practices of the monks, you can observe them as they go about their daily activities, such as cleaning, cooking, and studying. Additionally, attending the morning prayers or debates between the monks can provide you with insights into their spiritual practices and intellectual rigor. With so much to see and learn, a visit to Labrang Monastery is an unforgettable experience that offers a glimpse into the rich traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
Walk around and explore the monastery
Labrang Monastery is vast, with over 18 halls, six institutes of learning, and a large prayer hall. Spend some time exploring the complex, admiring the intricate paintings, sculptures, and murals that adorn the walls and ceilings.
Best time to visit Labrang Monastery
The best time to visit Labrang Monastery is from April to October as the weather is mild and the scenery is beautiful.
During this time, you can also witness many religious and cultural festivals of the Tibetan people, such as the Tibetan New Year, the Monlam Prayer Festival, and the Butter Lamp Festival. These festivals provide an excellent opportunity for visitors to experience the unique customs and traditions of the Tibetan people.
However, it is important to note that July and August are peak tourist seasons, and the monastery can get overcrowded during this time.
If you prefer a quieter environment, it is best to visit in April, May, September or October. During winter, the temperature can be extremely cold, and some parts of the monastery may be closed due to heavy snow
Attractions nearby Labrang Monastery
There are several attractions near Labrang Monastery that are worth visiting, including:
- Sangke Grassland: A vast expanse of grassland located about 20 kilometers from the monastery. It’s a great place for hiking, horseback riding, and experiencing the nomadic way of life.
- Gahai Lake: A picturesque lake located about 40 kilometers from the monastery. It’s a popular spot for birdwatching and enjoying the natural beauty of the area.
- Langmu Temple: A historic temple located about 90 kilometers from the monastery. It’s known for its stunning architecture and beautiful mountain setting.
Getting to Labrang Monastery
The nearest airport to Labrang Monastery is Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport, which is about 250 kilometers away. From the airport, you can take a bus or hire a taxi to Xiahe County, where the monastery is located.
Alternatively, you can take a train to Lanzhou Railway Station and then transfer to a bus or taxi to Xiahe County. There are also buses that run directly from Lanzhou to Xiahe.
Once you arrive in Xiahe County, Labrang Monastery is located in the center of town and is easily accessible on foot or by taxi.