Site near Dagzê, c. 40 km east of Lhasa, Tibet. It was the principal monastery founded by Tsong Khapa (1357–1419) in the early decades of the 15th century, and it thereafter became a major sanctuary of the Gelugpa school of Buddhism that he established. Formerly an impressive monastery town with several hundred shrines and chapels and a population of over 5000 lamas, Ganden was utterly destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–76). The monastery is still largely ruined, though some reconstruction has begun. The buildings that stand today all date from after 1980.
Ganden was built on the slopes of a hill with the buildings constructed in descending layers in a crescent shape. The heart of Ganden and its most important structure is Tsong Khapa’s Golden Tomb, the Ser Dung. This consists of several interconnecting buildings with high, tower-like superstructures and a courtyard; the inward-sloping walls are painted brown-red. This sanctuary contains several chapels with golden images of Buddhas and guardian deities. In the central chapel in the upper storey is Tsong Khapa’s tomb, a replica of the large stupa made of silver and gold in which the master was originally enclosed. Other main buildings include the Tri Dok Khang, where the abbot of Ganden lived. In a chapel on the second floor is kept a set of the ...