Trandruk Monastery, also written as Changzhug Monastery, lies on the southern side Mt. Gangpo Ri, on the east bank of the Yarlung River, about 2 kilometers from Nêdong County, Shannan Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. It is one of the earliest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet as well as one of the “Three Holy Monasteries in Shannan Area”, attracting many pilgrims and visitors.
Tran means roc and druk means dragon in Tibetan. The monastery got is name from the legend that Songtsan Gampo turned into a roc and conquered an evil dragon. With a history of about 1,300 years, Trandruk was built during the reign of Songtsan Gampo, and belonged to the Gelug Sect (or Yellow Hat Sect). It’s said that renowned figures in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, such as Padmasambhava and Milariba, had practised Buddhism nearby after it was built and the remaining relics are sacred land for the devotees. Over the years, it has gone through several major repairs and expansion. The 5th Dalai Lama made some repairs and added a golden roof and there were further repairs made by the 7th Dalai Lama.
The Trandruk Monastery comprises two main buildings: the Naiding Lakang (a chapel) and the Main Assembly Hall (also called Tshomchen). The lower layout of the main hall is similar to that of Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.
Consisting of two floors, the Naiding Lakang is said to be the oldest chapel in the monastery. On the first floor is enshrined the statue of Songtsen Gampo, and Padmasambhava and other Buddhas are worshiped on the second floor. The Tshomchen is composed of the courtyard, the Great Hall and the cloister around it. On the walls of the cloister were painted murals and the images of Lobsang Gyatso who was the fifth Dalai Lama and other famous hierarchs. There are 12 Buddhist chapels in the Great Hall. The Cuoqing Lakang is the main chapel. In the chapel is enshrined the statue of Sakyamuni and other two Buddhas with ten Bronze Bodhisattvas flanked on the left and right. On the second floor of the Great Hall are the dwelling of Dalai Lama and some other chapels.
When visiting Trandruk, you must see the most precious treasure in the monastery – a pearl Thangka representing Chenrezi (the Bodhisattva of Compassion) at rest. Thangka is a kind of paintings illustrating Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan arts. This pearl Thangka is the only one of its kind. It is 2 meters long, 1.2 meters wide and is made up of 29,026 pearls and a diamond, two rubies, a sapphires, 185 turquoise, amber, 1997 corals and 15.5 grams of gold. Additionally, you should not miss the Sakyamuni Thangka embroidered by Princess Wencheng. The room housing the precious Thangka is closed during the off-season. If you wish to see the Thangka at this time, you can ask the Monastery’s management to open the room.
You can get a public bus from Nêdong Road in Tsedang to Trandruk Monastery. Alternatively you can get there by motor tricycle or by local tractor. As it’s only 2 kilometers from Nêdong Road to the Monastery, you can walk there in about an hour.