September 18, 2005
The four-story Great Assembly hall is the largest building in the monastery. Visitors enter via the grand entrance with 10 columns flanked by large appliqué tankas suspended from the ceiling. Here, the main image is that of its founder, Jamchen Choje Shakya Yeshe and the centrepiece of the building is a 6m two-story image of Maitreya. Opposite the Great Assembly Hall, one can view the glimmering roofs of the Potala Palace.
Sera Monastery is most famed for its Debating Courtyard. Every afternoon, groups of monks seated under trees debate in the traditional method, the antagonist standing over the seated protagonist, firing questions punctuated by aggressive hand gestures. It is hard to miss it as visitors can hear the heated voices long before they reach the courtyard. Topics debated vary from the scriptures to science. As we observed from the periphery, the monks seemed used to the sight of tourists filming or taking photographs of them (or with them) and paid little mind while they continued their heated debate. A scene not to be missed.
This site describes more details of the Sera Monastery.
Admission Fee: 50 RMB
Opening Hours: 9-4pm
How to get there: Take a taxi but do agree on the fare, as Sera Monastery is at the outskirts.
From journal Tibet: Almost Heaven or Hell?