NUNNERIES IN LHASA
ANI TSAMKHUNG NUNNERY
It is the largest and the most active nunnery in Lhasa. You will find it to the south from Jokhang Temple and Barkhor street. The territory is lovely with many flowers around. If you visit early in the morning, you can see nuns chanting in the Assembly Hall.
Originally the site was used in the 7th century, on the place where king Songtsen Gompo meditated in a cave. It became a nunnery in 1445. Ani Tsamkhung nunnery belongs to the Gelugpa order.
A small nunnery on the Chak Pori Hill. Go past the viewpoint entering stairs walking to the left around Chak Pori. You will see the main complex of the Bharaluguk temple (absolutely worth the visit if you have time) and a smaller nunnery building. It is a branch of Shugsheb nunnery. The nunnery is inside the mountain. Inside you will see a small Assembly hall on one side and a large cave on the other side. One of the central figures of the nunnery is Tangtong Gyelpo. He studies medicine and invented Tibetan Opera. Tibetan Medical College was also established on the same mountain and functioned until recent years.
Kha-Nga Dong is the nunnery on the East side of Potala Palace, Many Tibetans walk the kora around Potala Palace, a circumambulation route around it. If you follow them, you can notice that there are small temples on the east side of the Potala Palace wall.
One of them in a yellow-painted building is a small nunnery. This nunnery’s chapels are inside the mountain. Inside you can see the cave, large prayer wheel and a small hall with statues on display.
The nunnery is located within approximately 1 hour of a pleasant hike from Pabongka monastery. The nunnery belongs to the Sera monastery complex. In the complex, you will find an old chapel and a butter lamp building nearby, a newly opened large Assembly hall and a simple tea house run by nuns. There is a pleasant forest around the complex, where you can rest from the day’s heat and recover after the hike.
There is another nunnery near Pabongka monastery that requires a longer and more strenuous hike. Samdeling nunnery is located higher up the mountain at an altitude of about 4,200 meters.
NORTH RIGSUM GONPO
The nunnery is located on the Ramoche road. When you walk from the Beijing road to Ramoche temple, you will see an arch with the sign “North temple” above it. Go inside and you will find a small nunnery. There are 2 floors.
LHASA VALLEY NUNNERIES
Shugsheb became an important retreat for nuns as early as in the 14th century. Shugsheb Jetsunma, the female incarnation of Shugsheb is one of the highest reincarnate lamas in Tibet. The nunnery is located on a scenic horse-shoe shaped mountain range 65km away from Lhasa. Gangri Tokar or the White Skull Mountain is located above Shugsheb. On the mountain you can see Orgyen Dzong cave. An important Dzogchen Lama Longchenpa meditated there in the 14th century.
Negodong nunnery belongs to Sera Monastery Hermitage, and belongs to Gelugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located in Lhasa Dhode, to the North-East of Lhasa in a mountain range. The nunnery was established in 1820.
Originally it was a monastery that was later converted to become a nunnery. Monk from the Sera Je college used this place for his retreat. The nunnery saw bad damage after Cultural Revolution. However, hardworking dedicated nuns collected donations to rebuilt it. You can visit the restored large complex, very clean and well-kept.
SAMYE MONASTERY AREA
Chimpu Nunnery is located at the historical Hermitage site near Samye. Chimpu is closely connected with the early years of adoption of Buddhism in Tibet. There are many meditation retreats where Buddhist practitioners stayed for many years on retreats.There are caves associated with Padma Sambhava, Indian teacher Atisha and Tibetan king Trisong Detsen.
Chimpu is located about 16km to the North East from Samye monastery. To visit the nunnery we first drive there from Samye. However, if you wish to visit hermitages and caves on the hillside, the only way to do it is to trek there. The hike takes about 2-3 hours, and then the walk down is about 35-45 minutes long. You will be rewarded by a splendid view on the mountain range, the valley below, Brahmaputra River and Hepo Ri hill in a distance.
Yemalung (Yamalung) Hermitage is another great site about 20km from Samye associated with Padma Sambhava. You need to cross the small river stream before starting to ascend to the top of the mountain hill. The hike up to the top takes about 1 hour. Nowadays there are stairs with poles and many areas under the shade of bushes where you can rest on the way up.
Many of the places on the mountain are related with Guru Rinpoche.
The main pilgrimage site here is the cave where Padma Sambhava meditated. There are several small temples scattered on the mountain slope and a few people staying there for meditation retreats.
TIDRUM NUNNERY AND HOTSPRING
Tidrum nunnery site is from the 8th century. Originally, it was the monastery and later converted into a nunnery. Tidrum belongs to Nyingmapa order.
The elevation is about 4,300 meters and it requires acclimatizing prior to visiting.
It is located within a pleasant 3-4 hour walk from Drigun Til monastery or a short 16 km ride from there.
The area is very famous for its healthy hot spring that attracts Tibetans. The nunnery is traditionally connected with the 8th-century king Trisong Detsen’s wife Yeshe Tsogyel.
DORJEE LING NUNNERY
Dorjee Ling Nunnery is located in Damxung Gyalpo town. It belongs to Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. The best way to visit Dorjee Ling Nunnery is by trekking from Tsurphu to Yangpachen. You can visit the nunnery with only around 50 nuns living there. The complex is small with a central Lhakhang – red building, and several houses surrounding it. After visiting the nunnery you can stay in the camping ground nearby to continue trekking the next day.
SAMTEN LING NUNNERY
Rebuild in 1985, Phenpo Lhundrup Zong, Thang Go Xiang (left of Reting monastery) and it is Geluk order. North-East from Lhasa
It is approximately in 1 hour of walking from Reting monastery.
There is a meditation cave on Tsongkhapa inside the main chapel.
GYANTSE AND SHIGATSE REGION
PELDE NUNNERY BY YAMDROK LAKE
On the shore of Yamdrok lake, there is a Pelde Nunnery. From the nunnery, you will get a nice view of the lake and surrounding farm fields.
The landscape becomes especially colorful during the time when rapeseed fields are in bloom. After visiting the complex, you can buy incense that nuns make there.
Rabse nunnery is located between Pelkor Chode monastery and the Gyantse Dzong. You can visit it by walking the kora around Palcho monastery. It is a mall and well-kept nunnery with many prayer flags and mani stones around it.
Rongbuk is the highest monastery on the planet. There are also nuns staying in Rongbuk. The most famous fact about Rongbuk is its prominent location. From the monastery you get an incredible view on the Northside of Everest. The Tibetan Northern side of Everest is spectacular as the highest mountain dominates the horse-shoe shaped valley.
Although accommodation options by the Rongbuk are very simple, most visitors stay here for the night to enjoy the view of sunset and sunrise.
RECOMMENDED TOURS IN TIBET
5 DAYS LHASA SIGHTSEEING
If you would like to visit any of the nunneries in Lhasa or in nearby valleys, it is the perfect tour. You can visit Lhasa nunneries on your last day or you can add an extra day and spend more time exploring religious sites.
Itinerary also includes visiting the highlights of Tibetan capital: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera and Drepung monasteries, and Norbulingka.
CLASSIC 8 DAYS LHASA TO EVEREST GROUP TOUR
This is one of the most popular tours in Tibet. In only 8 days it visits many highlights. Starting from Lhasa, we visit Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera and Drepung monasteries. From there we start our journey to Everest. We visit Yamdrok lake, Karola Glaciers, Gyantse monastery and Kumbum Stupa, among other places. When we reach Everest region, you will see Rongbuk monastery and nunnery.
6 DAYS TIBETAN CULTURAL HERITAGE TOUR
This private tour takes you from Lhasa to Yarlung Valley and Samye Monastery. Yarlung valley is the birthplace of Tibetan civilization. You can see Yumbulakhang, an ancient fort and the first surviving building in Tibet. After that you will visit Samye, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.
You can add a day or two to this tour to explore nunneries in the area. Visiting Chimpu hermitage site can make a great day tour and visiting Yumbulakhang is a lovely half day tour near Samye.
8 DAYS LHASA, NAMTSO, RETING MONASTERY AND TIDRUM NUNNERY TOUR
This 8 days tour will take you from Lhasa to the Northern areas of Tibet. Many of these places are rarely visited by tourists and you can explore Tibet’s hidden gems. After exploring all Lhasa’s highlights, we will visit Ganden monastery, the first monastery of Gelug order. From there we will drive to Drigun Til monastery, Tidrum Nunnery and Reting monastery. Finally, we will visit Namtso lake, the heavenly lake.