September 16, 2005
We set out on foot to climb the slopes leading to the monastery, taking in the lovely views of the valley enroute but were fortunate to hitch a ride from a passing shuttle bus that brought us to the ticket booth just before the monastery. From there, we climbed another gentle slope up to the Gandan Podrang, passing pilgrims performing their circumambulation.
Our tour began in Gandan Podrang, the residence of the Dalai Lamas prior to the construction of the Potala Palace. From there, we climbed a fleet of steep stairs towards the central courtyard, the site of religious dances and the Drepung Yoghurt festival. A group of monks from elsewhere Tibet and pilgrims were performing prostration in the central courtyard before the Central Assembly Hall.
From there, we were led to the kitchen located next to the Central Assembly Hall to observe monks preparing food in enormous sized pots to feed the few hundreds that resided in the monastery. Several novice monks outside the Central Assembly Hall entrance were also busy peeling and chopping baskets of potatoes on an extremely huge chopping board. In the Central Assembly Hall were more monks chanting and studying the scriptures. The atmosphere was of quiet thought, a sharp contrast from Jokhang Temple.
Go here for more details.
Admission Fee: 30RMB.
Opening Hours: 9-12noon
How to get there: By taxi, it’s the cheapest and fastest way. At the foot of the monastery, transfer to a shuttle bus that charges 2 RMB pp (the only transport allowed due to road repairs), or take a slow 30min to an hour hike up the hill.
NB: Jokhang Temple and Drepung monastery issues CD-rom souvenir tickets which contain English and Mandarin brief explanations of the history and highlights of these places. To view, disable the autoplay mode and open the files individually.
From journal Tibet: Almost Heaven or Hell?