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The Pelkor Chode monastery and the old town of Gyantse (Tibet - China)

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Uploaded on Sep 9, 2011

(EN) The Palcho Monastery or Pelkor Chode Monastery or Shekar Gyantse is the main monastery in Gyantse, Gyangzê County, Shigatse Prefecture, Tibet, in the Nyangchu river valley. The monastery precinct is a complex of structures, which, apart from the Tsuklakhang Monastery, also includes its Kumbum, believed to be the largest such structure in Tibet, that is most notable for its 108 chapels in its several floors and the old Dzong or fort.
The earliest history of the Penchor Chode Monastery is traced to the ninth century. Pelkhor-tsen, son of Langdarma (anti Buddhist King of West Tibet) after whom the monastery is named as Pelkor Chode, lived here and attempted to perpetuate the Yarlung dynasty of his father who had been assassinated.
Gyantse town was established between the 14th and 15th centuries as a feudatory, with the Sakya sect playing a crucial overlord role. During this period, the Buddhist monuments were also built with the Dzong (the old fort) followed by the Kumbum and the Pekor monastery. All three structures have been dated. Tsuklakhang monastery was built by prince Rabton Kunzang Phak between 1418--25. However, Gyantse's historical importance declined by the end of the 15th century.
The Tsuklakhang, the main temple of the monastery was built in 1418--1428 by Rabten Kunzang Phak, the second Prince of Gyantse, who was a devotee of Kedrub Je (1385--1438), one of Tsongkapa's leading disciples later recognized as the 1st Panchen Lama. It became an important centre of the Sakya sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The Kumbum or Tashigomang, commenced construction in 1427 and completed by 1437, also by prince Rabten Kunzang Phak. Several other buildings followed, with Buddhist sects such as Sakyapa, Zhalupa and Gelukpa building religious colleges or hermitages; 16 colleges were recorded by the end of 17th century, increasing to 18 by the start of the 19th century. However most of them were later closed. Now, only two colleges of the Gelukpa order remain, which are stated to be of little consequence.
Another testament to Prince Rabten Kunzang Phak's period is the public display of two gigantic paintings; (Thangkas) of Shakyamuni Buddha flanked by his two principal disciples, of Maitreya, Manjushri and many more on the occasion of the Gyantse festival that is held in the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar. This practice was started between 1418 and 1419 in the northeast corner of the monastery walls, known as Goku Tramsa.
In 1904, the town and monastery were attacked by British soldiers under the leadership of Francis Younghusband (commanding 1000 troops, 10,000 servants, and 4,000 yaks) and although most of the damage was later restored, bullet holes from this attack remain in the monastery to this day. Following the capture of Gyantse fort, the agreement signed by the Tibetan Regent, resulted in establishment of British Trade Missions at Gyantse and Mt. Kailash in Tibet. In 1906, the British signed an agreement with the Chinese authorities, which established their influence over Tibet and thus "effectively ending both British and Russian influence".
It was partially destroyed in 1959 after a revolt against Chinese rule. It was ransacked again during the Cultural Revolution, but has since been largely restored.[8][9] Prior to the uprising there were 1520 monks but now they number less than 80. (wikipedia)

Map for Tibet trip : http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF...

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