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Chiu monastery by Manasarovar lake in Western Tibet


School of Buddhism: Nyingmapa (Red Hat)
Location: 33 km from Darchen, on the Westside shore of Manasarovar Lake
Altitude: 4, 590 meters
Other name and spelling: Jiu monastery, Sparrow Monastery, Chiu Gompa


Chiu monastery near holy lake Manasarovar in Tibet

Chiu monastery is located about 33 km from Darchen. The monastery sits on a steep red-colored Sangtok Pelri Mountain by the magnificent Manasarovar Lake. From the monastery you can enjoy an amazing view on the Manasarovar lake and Gurla Mandhata Peak (7,694m). On a clear day you can also see Mount Kailash. Although Chiu monastery is not large, its architecture resembles Potala Palace. 

It is one of the most popular monasteries on the lake Manasarovar shore. Pilgrims visiting the sacred Manasarovar, stay in the guesthouses on the lake shore and below the Chiu monastery. Our Mount Kailash  group tours visit Chiu monastery when staying at the Manasarovar lake.


Tibetan Buddhist monks in Chiu monastery in Western Tibet

Chiu monastery is closely related to Guru Rinpoche (Padma Sambhava). In the 8th century, he meditated in the cave that is now at the heart of the monastery. Guru Rinpoche spend the last 7 days of his life in the cave. There is his footprint on the rock. Nowadays you can see his small statue in this cave. Another statue of the Indian master is in the center of the main chapel.


Statue of Padma Sambhava or Guru Rinpoche (Tibetan)
Statue of Padma Sambhava in Chiu Monastery

Visiting Chiu requires a short walk up the hill. The short kora around the monastery takes about 30 minutes. The river Ganga Chu flowing nearby connects Manasarovar lake with nearby Rakshas Tal lake. The river is a source of Sutlej River. There is a hotspring near the river behind the monastery. Facilities are basic. However, it is a popular choice for pilgrims since simple guesthouses by the lake don’t have showers.


Most of the pilgrims visit Chiu while staying at the Manasarovar lake. The Tibetan name of the lake is Mapam Yumtso. Water from the glaciers in Mount Kailash region fills the lake with fresh water. Manasarovar lake, along with Mount Kailash is sacred for four religions: Bon, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. There are many birds nesting on the lake shore.





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