This Tsurphu day tour visits the most important monastery of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is located in the Drowolung valley, approximately 1-1.5 hours of driving from Lhasa. First we will reach Nakar. Further from it, we will follow Tsurphu River, passing by grasslands. During the warm summer time on the way to Tsurphu you can see many tents along the way, as Tibetans come to this marvelous area for picnics. Nomads also travel to the area with their herds, although they are usually staying behind the mountains away from major roads. You can meet them while trekking near Tsurphu.
When driving to Tsurphu, you will also see the railway, connecting China and Tibet. It is famous for being the highest railroad in the world going over the mountain pass above 5,000 meters.
Tsurphu is the 12th century monastery, the seat of Karmapa. Karmapa is the head of Karma Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism, and the third most important Lama in Tibet after the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama.
The First Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa established Tsurphu in 1187. He is also started the tulku tradition – the succession of reincarnate lamas. The second Karmapa was the first reincarnation. He expanded monastery complex and built the main temple in 1263.
Monastery complex was damaged during the Cultural Revolution, but in the recent years most of the chapels were rebuilt and reconstruction continues to this day. You can visit all the main chapels. One of the most important statues in Tsurphu – the 20 meters high 13th century statue of Shakyamuni was damaged and nowadays you can see a replica.
VISITING TSURPHU MONASTERY
When we reach Tsurphu, we will spend time exploring all the main buildings of the monastery. You will see the Jamyang Lhakhang, the main Temple of the monastery with a large Assembly hall on the ground floor. We will visit the adjacent temples and spend time in the Protector’s chapel. There are 5 rooms each displaying statues of wrathful protectors, including Mahakala, Palden Lhamo, the wrathful form of Guru Rinpoche, Kagyu protector Dorje Phurba, and Mount Everest protectress Tseringma.
After visiting protector’s chapel we will head to Serdung Chanpo, the large building behind it. The building served as the residence of the Karmapa. You can see statues of all previous 16 Karmapas. In the room at the back of the courtyard you will see three stupas.
The large chapel to the right of the Serdung Chanpo houses the 20m-high gilded statue of Sakyamuni Buddha.
WALKING AROUND TSURPHU
After visiting the monastery complex, you have an option to walk the kora around Tsurphu. The kora is around 4 km long. On the up up to the Jampa Ri hill above the monastery we will pass by several meditation retreats. Some of the prominent ones are retreat hermitages of the Second and Third Karmapas.
As we finish our Tsurphu day tour, on the way back to Lhasa, we can make a short stop by the spring water source. The source is very popular amount Tibetans.
If you want to spend more time in the area and trek through nearby mountain ranges and valleys, you can continue to 4 days trekking tour from Tsurphu to Yangpachen.
TSURPHU TO YANGPACHEN TREK
We start trekking from Tsurpu, going along the mountain river, crossing high passes until we reach the Yangpachen monastery. At the end we will stay one night at the hotspring area, where we can unwind and rest, swimming in the hotspring swimming pools.