Gyangtse is very famous for its giant architectural stupa in Tibet, called Kumbum and Palkor Choede monastery next to it. Both the stupa and monastery are located in the far north side of the town. Where the Kumbum literally means “hundred thousand images of Buddha”, that is the only Nepalese styled stupa in whole Tibet standing at 34m high. However, while waking via the white layers until to the sixth floor trimmed with decorative stripes. The mural paintings and wall paintings are the wonders of the stupa that mostly date back to its original time, there are around 108 cells all around the stupa and every cell has different paintings and statues inside. While waking in clockwise ascent up to the top from where you will have a beautiful view of the old part of the town in the shadow of the fort.
Palkor Choede monastery starts in the 14th century by the 1st Panchen Lama and local chieftain Kusang Rabten, the monastery is prominent with the main image of present Buddha, sitting right at the centre of the inner temple attached to assembly hall. Apart from the yellow hat order, the Sakyapa order and obscure Buton suborder are also located in the same monastery. During the month of Saka Dawa (birthday anniversary of Lord Buddha), pilgrims gather at the monastery to see its blessing ritual dance called Cham (a religious dance perform by the monks). Nevertheless, some part of the monastery were damaged during the Cultural Revolution and still inside walls of the main assembly hall remains burnt and black in color that damaged the murals inside.
Palkor Choede monastery
The monastery was Initially founded by the 1st Pachen Lama and local chieftain Kusang Rabten in 1418. The monastery is located in north of the town adjacent to the fort, containing 15 different chapels and halls belong to three different orders of Tibetan Buddhism. Among them, nine of the monasteries were belong to Gelukpa, three were Sakyapa and three belong to Buton suborder (the head of this order is Shalu monastery located near Shigatse). There are around six different chapels open for both the pilgrims and tourists. and the monastery is surrounds by a red all around the monastery for protection during the war period.
Entering the main door near the parking area, prayer wheels lined on the both side of the entrance lane. These prayer wheels contain a long and lengthy paper inside that consists thousands of mantras of it. Right inside the monastery is the main assembly halls protected by four-guardian kings statue at the door. Few long benches lined in the middle of the assembly hall is where monks gather every morning to do their prayers and ritual activities too.
On the left side of the hall is Virocana chapel where they is also wooden statues all around the main statue at the centre, those wooden statues are styled from Newari artisans and those statues has around 500-600yrs history.
The center chapel comprise the main image of the monastery Sakyamuni Buddha flanked by past and future Buddha images,
Kumbum which means hundred thousand Buddha images in Tibetan. The great octagonal sutpa is one of the Tibet’s outstanding architectural achievements, it was built and decorated by the local prince Rabten Kunsang Phak in the style known as Tashi Gomang or Kumbum, which combines a terraced stupa exterior with multi-layered interior chapels. Rising 35 meters high, the stupa is said to have 108 cells, nine storeys(including the base) and 75 chapels. One tradition identifies the 108 cells with the nine storeys (representing space) multiplied by the 12 astrological signs (representing time). Within the 75 chapes, the images from a progressive hierarchy of three dimensional mandalas, as outlined in the Sakyapa compilation, ensuring that the stupa encapsulates within it the entire spiritual path and gradation of the tantras.
Within the low and dark staircases it winds up in the clockwise to the top and from there you will have a spectacular view of the town in the shadow of famous Gyantse fort, walls within the stupa comprise most extraordinary murals of different religions including Hidus that mostly date back to its original.