Situated 25km southwest of Xining city, Kumbum Monastery(Ta’er Monastery, 塔尔寺)
is another gem of Qinghai, just like Qinghai Lake
and the Great Mosque
. In Tibetan, it means “a Buddhism monastery with ten thousand roaring lions”. Today, it stands out as the biggest Tibetan Buddhism monastery in Qinghai and one of the top six Yellow Hat sect monasteries in Tibet.
| Kumbum Monastery(Ta’er Monastery, 塔尔寺): one of the Top Three Wonders of Qinghai|
This sacred pilgrimage destination is renowned for Yak butter sculptures, frescoes and embroidery artworks. Except that, the dazzling festivals which fill the calendar of the whole year bring much color and vibrancy to it. The Yak Butter Sculpture Show celebrated on the 15th day of the first Tibetan month, is world-renowned for its assorted yak butter sculptures with unparalleled exquisiteness and charm. To gaze at this incredible art specialty finding the fullest expression here will be an eye-opening experience. In each fourth and sixth lunar month, Kumbum Monastery will see the kick off of Buddha-show Festival(晒大佛). A giant Tang-ga will be exhibited to receive the first ray of sunshine and worship from an ocean of pilgrimages. The solemn music and prayers will resonate amid the valley. The Butter Lamp Festival, a timeworn and prominent Buddhism festival in honor of Tsong Khapa(1357-1419), will reach its zenith in Kumbum Monastery. This nine-day carnival will see Kumbum Monastery bathed within a constellation of butter lamps, which is a rare-seen spectacle. Accompanied by the touching music, monks will chant the prayers for nine days. These festivals will help you soak in the authentic and rich Tibetan culture and read the mindset of Tibetans, who are the most devout Buddhists on the planet.
Kumbum Monastery is not only a Mecca for lamas, but also a cradle of scholars. Four academies: the Esoteric, Medicine, Exoteric and the Kalachakra sheltered within keep churning out not only religion talents, but also doctors, engineers, dancers and musicians. It also harbors an extensive collection of books on Buddhism, history, literature, philosophy and medicine.
Construction of Ta’er Monastery began in 1379 in honor of Tsong Khapa(1357-1419), founder of the Yellow Hat sect( Gelug sect) of Tibetan Buddhism. The origin of this monastery is very mysterious. Rumors had it that when Tsong Khapa was born, several drops of blood dripped from his umbilical cord, and a sandalwood tree grew on the site later. This magic tree, known as “Tree of Great Merit”, can produce an alluring scent and its barks as well as leaves can show the face of Buddha and Buddhism syllables.
Today, this over 600-year-old monastery is shared by monks, pilgrims and tourists. Clinging to the undulating hills, this architecture complex incorporating Han and Tibetan styles, is imposing and graceful. Centered on the Grand Golden Tile Mansion, Kumbum Monastery’s over 1000 courtyards and 4500 mansions spread out. Wondering along this temple will promise a cultural enlightenment journey.
The eight Buddhist stupas gracing the skyline of Kumbum Monastery, were erected in 1776 to commemorate the eight virtues of Sakyamni, from his birth to nirvana. Measuring 6.4m high and 9.4m long, each houses a shrine and is engraved with sutras. Against the sunset and moonlight, this iconic architecture complex breathes indescribable beauty.
| Kumbum Monastery's landmark: the eight Buddhist stupas|
Location: southwest of Shaer Town, Huangzhong County, Xining, Qinghai
Admission Fee: 80¥
Operation: 8:00am to 17:00pm
Best Travel Season: May to September
Donts: you are not to take photos inside of Kumbum Monastery
Weather: Xining has a continental plateau climate with long and chilly winter and cool humid summer. Temperature varies dramatically during day and night. The sunshine is strong here, hence hat and sun screen are necessities. Warm coat is a must-have. Annual average temperature: 3.2℃ With average temperature plummeting to －8.9℃, January is the coldest month here. July, the hottest month, has an average temperature of 17.2℃.
Xining to Ta’er Monastery: take a bus in Xiaoximen Station or Zhifanglu Station. Frequency: each 30 minutes. The last bus: 18:00pm. Taxi can be an alternative choice, which will cost 8RMB.
| Kumbum Monastery boasts the most exquisite Yak butter sculptures in China|| The Butter Lamp Festival|
| Kumbum Monastery: Mecca for lamas, sanctuary for scholars and paradise for art lovers|| Kumbum Monastery incorporates the Han style and Tibetan style architecture|