It did not take long to reach the artificial lake from Jyekundo: the driver turned left and after a short drive we arrived at a square with buildings on several sides. The square looked empty, bar a couple of dogs, but when I entered the assembly hall, it was clear why. It was full of monks in their dark red robes, curiously looking at the intruder in their impressively decorated temple. Originally founded in the 12th century, Trangu monastery is the seat of Trangu Rinpoche, prominent lama of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.
After the Chinese invasion, Trangu Rinpoche fled to India much like the Dalai Lama, and is currently residing in Nepal. His monastery, although just a shade of the original monastery that once held 10,000 lamas, and largely destroyed after the invasion, still sits on a hilltop south of Jyekundo. It is in the process of being rebuilt after 1982, and currently some 250 monks reside here. The interior of the general assembly hall looked impressively colourful, with very tall circular decorative cotton cilinders hanging down from the ceiling. Obviously, I also saw pictures of important lamas, and in the woodwork decorations, recognized some of the main themes of Tibetan Buddhism.
When I came out of the monastery, the square was still empty. I saw one woman, a lonely figure walking the kora around the monastery. Smoke was enveloping the square and the monastery, and I walked to the source: it was caused by burning juniper branches. A small group of young monks appeared from the smoke, and they seemed pleased by their visitor. One of them invited me over; I suddenly found myself in a school where young aspiring monks were being trained. To my surprise, some of them were standing on their desk. It appeared to be a punishment for giving a wrong answer. They were actually studying Chinese. I left the building, walked down, and came across two Tibetan women walking in traditional dress. One had a beautifully decorated silver coloured knife, while the other held two stones in her hands. I could imagine what they were for, and when I pointed to a dog, she confirmed by nodding her head with a smile. Dogs can be vicious here, and I followed suit - but did not need the stones I picked up on my way down.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Trangu monastery (China). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Trangu monastery. Read more about this site.