Located at the foot of the Wuze Hill in Sera to the north of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, the Sera Monastery is one of the three great monasteries in Lhasa along with the Drepung Monastery and the Ganden Monastery, and one of the six great monasteries of the Gelug Sect of Buddhism in Tibet.
Sera Monastery was built by one of disciples of Tsongkhapa in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), at a place where his great master had spent many years studying and meditating in a small hut. The monastery was named Sera, which means wild rose in Tibetan language, because the hill behind it was covered with wild roses in bloom when it was built.
The Sera Monastery is magnificent, featuring a unique style quite different from other famous monasteries in Lhasa and covering an area of 114,946 square meters (28 acres). Its main buildings are the Coqen Hall Tsokchen (Great Assembly Hall) – Sera’s largest building, the three Zhacangs (colleges) and Kamcun (dormitory) also called Homdong Kangtsang.
The Sera Monastery is very famous for “Buddhist Doctrine Debating”. Debate among monks on the Buddhist doctrines is not only a challenging debate and a battle of words and wits, but also a way to better comprehend the Buddhist philosophy to attain higher levels of study. This exemplary debating tradition supplemented with gestures is exclusive to Sera Monastery, making it distinctive from the several other monasteries in Lhasa. The Debating Courtyard is at the northern end of the passage leading to the front gate, and the debating usually begins at 15:00 every day.
On 27th of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar (some time in February as per the Gregorian calendar), the monastery holds the grand Sera Bengqin Festival, which is largely attended by monks and devotees.
Opening Hours: 09:00 to 16:00
Transport: You can take minibus No. 5 at the parking lot of the Jokhang Temple, the crossing of Youth Road or Nyangrain Road to the Sera Monastery. The last minibus will leave just after the end of the debating at about 5pm. A taxi will cost around 10-15yuan. Alternatively, you can cycle there.