Palkhor Monastery is a kind of typical Tibetan Buddhism monastery architecture combined stupa and temple, with temples in the stupa, stupas in the temple. The stupas and temples stay harmoniously and bring out the best in each other. Its architecture fully represents a typical style of monasteries from thirteenth century to fifteenth century in Later Tibetan area, which is also the unique monasteries with both the temple and stupa being kept well today. So it is reputed as a monument of architecture period. The Palkhor Monastery (meaning lucky and happy monastery) has a Chinese name Baiju Monastery. It has two features: there are three classes of Buddhism (Sakys, Gedang and Gelugpa) existing harmoniously this monastery. Those three classes of Buddhism had experienced repulsion and rivalry for a long time, peaceful with each other. So both the oblation and the architecture style in the monastery embrace and adopt good points from all quarters. Palkhor also features its "Bodhi stupa", or "Kumbum" in Tibetan. Deemed as the symbol of the monastery, the spectacular "stupa" consists of hundreds of chapels in layers, housing about a hundred thousand images of various icons. These icons include Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Vajras, Dharma Kings, Arhats, Disciples, great adepts of different orders in Tibetan Buddhist history, and outstanding figures in Tibetan history such as Songtsen Gampo and Trisong Detsen. In total there are about 3,000 statues, so it is called "Myriad Buddhas Stupa"So people often call it “Myriad Buddhas Stupa ", but not its formal name.
Palkhor Monastery was built in a prosperous social period with sound historical culture background. In fourteenth and fifteenth century Tibetan economy, culture, religion, technology and art developed very quickly. In 1408 after the Lhasa Praying Rituals held by Tsongkhapa, the construction of Tibetan Buddha monastery reached a climax. Lots of important and famous monastery including Gandain Monastery (1408), Zhaibung Monastery (1416), Sera Monastery (1419), Qamdo Qambaling Monastery (1444) and Tashilunpo Monastery (1447) etc. were gradually built. Prince of Dharma Jamze Khripa Shodangongsanpa owned civil and military skills, and politically democratic. He especially stressed the development of religious culture projects. In 1403 he invited the disciple of Tsongkhapa Master Kezujie to come to Gyangts and appointed him Gyangts Buddhism Manager sponsoring the construction of Palkhor Monastery. In 1418, after several times of money raising and discussion, the construction of Palkhor Monastery began. The main hall and other sub-halls took eight years to finish. Later Lord of the Gyangts Buddha feuded with Kezujie, so Kezujie left Gyangts. But the great construction of the monastery and compilation of Buddhism sutra didn’t stop. In 1427 Myriad Buddha Stupa started, and was finished after ten years. Because it was built in the division period of counterbalance Tibetan sects, it gathered Gelugpa, Sakyapa and Kahdampa. Each denomination occupied five or six Zhacang (the highest power position in monastery). At the beginning the Gelugpa could not unify the other denominations, so it stayed harmoniously with the Sakya, Shalu and other denominations. But this situation and the precise scholarship are maintained forever in the monastery, which made Palkhor Monastery develop a school of its own among thousands of Tibetan Buddhism monasteries. In addition, lots of mural and carved statues are also attractions to tourists. It is said that the famous hierarch Buton master painted these mural especially the Dkyil—Khors.
Tshomchen, the Main Assembly Hall of Palkhor, was built between the end of fourteenth century and the beginning of the fifteenth century. The ground floor of the three-story building is a Chanting Hall with 48 columns, which are decorated with old silk "thangkas". An eight-meter high (26 feet) bronze statuary of Maitreya is also on display. The gilded figure is made from 1.4 tons (3086 pounds) of bronze. On the second floor, "Bodhisattva Manjushri" and "Arhats", from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), were enshrined in the chapels. Its Arhat Chapel is famous throughout Tibet. On the roof, a chapel houses a collection of 15 "mandala" murals, which are three meters (ten feet) in diameter. Additionally, the monastery collects about 100 robes and costumes worn in Tibetan opera, all of which were made of silk, embroidery and tapestry during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
The monastery houses monks from the Gelugpa, Sakyapa and Kahdampa. Although they once quarreled and fought, the different orders eventually discovered a way to get along with each other. The monastery is the only one known to house monks from different orders in harmony. As a result, its structural style, deities enshrined and murals are very special.
Myriad Buddha Stupa:
Myriad Buddha Stupa is a must in Palkhor. This Bodhi stupa covering a space of 2,200 square meters has a total of 108 gates and 77 chapels, each of which has a dominant religious figure and murals. The cylinder, 20 meters in diameter, has four chapels inside. Besides the illustrious Painting of millions Buddha, there are thousands of mud, copper and gold figures of Buddha which embrace the art style in India, Nepal and inland China. So it is called Buddha figure museum. The elegant structure is worth a visit.
The mural is also very famous. It presents various subject like two kinds of Buddhism (local and inland), Buddhism stories and the Tibetan Buddhism stories etc. Compared with the other monasteries in Tibet, it owns unique painting skills. You can find the subject about Xiangzong on the first Sutra Hall in the big palace, cloister, the first floor of Lucky Duomen Stupa, east and west Pure Land Palace and Doushuai Palace. But the main subjects the mural in Palkhor is Mizong. If you are a tourist interested in Tibetan Mizong Buddhism, you can look for it at the Dongxi Fawang Palace, Diamond Board Palace, three story Wuliang Palace and Luck Duomen Stupa(first floor to fifth floor). The backlight is one of the most important features of Palkhor mural, composed of body and headlight. The common shape of Palkhor mural backlight is boat-shape, niche-shape and oval shape or horse foot shape. With elegant model, sufficient stripes, symmetry and bright but harmonious color, it looks extractive and sobriety, but not tarnish.
Saka Dawa Festival
The anniversary of Myriad B 1uddhas Stupa is on the5th day of the 4th Tibetan month that is Saka Dawa Festival. The day is believed to be the day when Sakyamuni was born, step into Buddhahood and attained nirvana. Tibetans believe that one merit equals myriads of merits accumulated the other days. People keep from killing animals, refrain from eating meats and liberate animals. Sutra chanting, prayer turning, Cham dancing and other religious activities dominate the session. Offering sacrifices to the female deity enshrined in the temple on the islet of the Dragon King Pond, boating in the pond and picnicking add more festive mood. In Palkhor Monastery there will be 500 lamas chanting sutra together. Thousands of Buddhists gather here.