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Impression on Kumbum Monastery

Located in Huangzhong County of Xining, Kumbum Monastery is a AAAAA scenic spot which can date back to 1377. As the Tsongkhapa founder of Gelug Sect born here, was listed in “Six Greatest Monastery of Tibetan Gelug” and enjoys a high prestige among not only China but also Southeast Asia. It is also the holy land of Yellow Hat Sect and the center of Tibetan Buddhism in northwest China.

There is a vast of architecture group with combination of Tibetan and Han style standing in Kumbum Monastery. Palace, Buddhist Hall, scripture hall and courtyard blend into a harmonious whole. Many precious academic monograph including Buddhist classics, history, literature, philosophy, legislation are housed in Kumbum Monastery

What to Do

Enjoy the Various Tibetan Style Buildings

Pagodas of Buddha Shakyamuni

The Eight Pagodas of Buddha Shakyamuni are typical Tibetan Pagodas built to commemorate the eight merits and virtues of Buddha Shakyamuni. Located in the front square, this group is one of most representative buildings of Kumbum Monastery. With different shape and size, the eight pagodas share same height of 6.5 meter. The body of pagodas is colored in white and the 5.7-square-meter base is piled up by green bricks. You can see the waist of each pagoda is decorated with delicate scriptures. In the south body of Pagoda is a niche with Sanskrit. In these pagodas, the tents and some other objects are collected

Grand Golden Tiled Hall

The Grand Golden Tiled Hall, built in 1379 originally, is main hall situated in the heart of Kumbum Monastery. The whole building is extremely well-designed, three-eave gable and hip roof palace with glazed tile walls and gilded copper tile roofs. Each brim is embellished with gilded cloud-shape flowers and petals of lotus, and you can find guardian warriors, sacred animals and bronze bells in every corner of the eaves. Stepping in, an 11-meter tall golden coated tower cored by white sandalwood and bedecked by various treasures is worshiped. In the niche on the top of the tower stands the statue of Tsongkhapa. This golden tower is the treasure of Kumbum Monastery, and Buddhists believe that meeting the tower means meeting Tsongkhapa.

Dhammapala Hall

Dhammapala Hall, also named the Small Golden Tiled Hall, was constructed in 1692. It is famous and attractive in that Dhammapala who always exorcised the evil spirits is worshiped here. This is a two-story building with single eave and gilded bronze-tile covered roof. It shows its own beauty with outsider walls installed with bronze mirror and adorned with hemp cords. The two corridors are lined with lively specimen of oxen, antelopes, monkeys, orangutans, tigers, bears and leopard which are saddle mounts of Dhammapala and shows the stateliness and omnipotence of Dhammapala. On the left side of the hall is the specimen of a white horse which is said to be the horse of Dalai Lama Ⅲ.

Main Assembly Hall

The Main Assembly Hall, officially named Sangha Grand Assembly Hall, is a place where the Buddhists gather to recite the sutras and important Buddhist activities are held. Primitively built in 1621, burnt in 1912 and rebuilt in 1913, this hall became the largest building occupying nearly 2,000 square kilometers. All the ornaments in Main Assembly Hall are very elegant, including colored sutra streamers, caisson in the ceiling, and valuable barbola of Buddha. According to religions guide and Tibetan traditional art, this monotonous flattop is added with gild bronze Aquarius, cleverish pagoda and inverted bells and turns to be colorful and bright but still solemn.

Kumbum Monastery Topical Tibetan Style Building
Kumbum Monastery Grand Golden Tiled Hall
Kumbum Monastery Beautiful Green Wall
Kumbum Monastery Delicate Decoration in the Building

Admire the Charm of Three Best Arts

Murals, Butter Sculptures of Buddha and Barbola are honored as the Three Best Arts in Kumbum Monastery. More than aesthetic images, they touch people by the devout belief they show.

Exquisite Murals

Some of murals are drawn on the wall directly, but most of the murals are drawn on a cloth and fixed on the wall. These murals in Kumbum Monastery show a vivid and brilliant color and the color is long-lasting for the special mineral material chosen. In addition to harmonious color, the pictures have an ingenious design and well layout. Distinguished with paintings of Han Nationality, most of the murals have drawn materials from Buddhist sutra, legendary, life experience of Shakyamuni or other images of Buddha. As a result, you can feel a strong religious atmosphere from them. In every Sutra-viewing Festival, the Buddhists will put an about 30-meter-long cloth with giant Buddha high on the hills, calling Giant Buddha Exhibition.

Vivid Butter Sculptures

Butter Sculptures were produced in Tibet originally. There were no fresh flowers offered to Buddha in the cold winter, so the followers made flowers by butter to show their respect. The skill of making Butter Sculpture was brought to Kumbum Monastery and developed by the Buddhists after their painstaking research, and finally became a superb art. In Kumbum Monastery, you can satisfy your eyes with a full view of the fine sculptures of statues of Buddha, human figures, landscape, pavilions, animals and plants. In order to make excellent Butter Sculpture, the workers have to immerse their hands in the cold water even in freezing winter. An exhibition takes place in every 15th January of Chinese lunar calendar. At this time, you can appreciate a variety of Butter Sculptures as well as respectful and solemn music played by a local band.

Imaginative Barbola

Barbola is an exclusive folk art in Kumbum Monastery. As the crystallization of the wisdom, it was not only highly glorified by Buddhist followers but also prized by the social artists. It enjoys a great three-dimensional sense in that raised pattern are embroidered in the cloth. The theme of Barbola focus on the activities of Buddha mainly mixed with appropriate figures, animals and plants. Being fine carved, colorful and lively style, Barbola works are important treasures in Kumbum Monastery. In the Main Assembly Hall, you can feast your eyes on gorgeous Barbola especially the greatest “sixteen disciples of the Buddha” and “Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea”.

Kumbum Monastery mural
Kumbum Monastery Butter Scupture
Kumbum Monastery Barbola

Watch Buddhist Scriptures Debating

Buddhist Scripture Debating is a typical way for monk in Kumbum Monastery to study Buddhist Scriptures and one of the daily tasks of the monks. The debating scenes differed among circles. In some group, the pair of debating monks confronted face to face, with the questioner standing and the responder sitting cross-legged; while the other groups placed the questioner in the center while the rest sitting in a semi-circle. According to the convention, the questioners keep asking until on one can raise one more, and the responder can only answer but not ask back. It seems like a furious debate of wisdom.

The Buddhist Scripture Debating always begins in 3:00 pm or 4:00 pm. Afterwards, the participants will chant scripture and study together.

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Kumbum Monastery Buddhist Scripture Debating

Location & Transportation

Kumbum Monastery is located in Lushaer Town of Huangzhong County,

  • About 25 km away from Xining City
  • About 33 km away from Xining Railway Station
  • About 60 km away from Caojiabao Airport
  • About 145 km away from Qinghai Lake

For Independent Travelers

There is public bus in Xining West Station which can bring you to Kumbum Monastery directly. If you start from Caojiabao Airport or Xining Railway Station, you have to transfer in Xining City

Travel with ChinaDiscovery

If you want to get rid of hustle of public transportation and troublesome navigation, you can book a private tour package which covers sightseeing, dining and transfer from us. Our knowledgeable local tour guide and skilled driver will escort you to Kumbum Monastery with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on sightseeing.

Kumbum Monastery Location Map Kumbum Monastery Location Map

Warm Tips

  • Wear suitably to protect from strong sunlight, but do not wear hat or sunglasses when visiting inside the chapels. It is also not suitable to wear skirts as well.
  • Follow the Buddhist manners: talk in low voice, always be respectful of others, reflect on the Buddha’s teachings and keep quiet when visiting...

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[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >