Pelkhor Chode Monastery
The high red-walled compound in the far north of Gyantse houses Pelkhor Chode Monastery, founded in 1418, which was formerly home to huge populations of Gelugpa and Sakya monks. The monastery suffered greatly during the Cultural Revolution, but is now having a revival. The main assembly hall is of greatest interest, but there are several other chapels to see. The Pelkhor also offers another opportunity to see pilgrims making their koras, spinning prayer wheels and reciting mantras as they circumnavigate the giant stupa. This experience offers a rare opportunity for unique insight into the rural life of Tibet. Have tea or dinner with a few of the pilgrims and hear from them about their powerfully spiritual journey.
Gyantse’s greatest sight is Gyantse Kumbum, the largest chörten remaining in Tibet which was built around 1440 and is covered in murals and frescoes, and has sets of “Buddha eyes” looking out protectively over the surrounding countryside. This 32m-high chörten, with its white layers trimmed with decorative stripes and crown-like golden dome, is awe-inspiring. But the inside is no less impressive, and in what seems an endless series of tiny chapels you’ll find painting after exquisite painting (kumbum means ‘100,000 images’).