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Located about 20 km southeast from Sertar County (Seda,色达) that is filled with Tibetan color, Larung Gar Buddhist Academy is also called “Larung Gar Buddhist Institute”, “Serthar Buddhist Institute” or “Larong Wuming Tibetan Buddhist Institute”. First set up in 1980 with only some 30 apprentices, the academy was accepted by the 10th Panchen who wrote to the county government to apply for support. Through their efforts, this famous Tibetan Buddhist Institute was bestowed the title of “World’s Largest Buddhist Institute” by an American newspaper in 1993. Then, in 1997, Larung Gar Buddhist Academy was officially established. And till now, there are more than 20 thousand Buddhist apprentices here learning the sacred Buddhist courses and purifying the soul.
(Recent news: According to the statutory regulation, Foreign visitors, and residents of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are not allowed to visit Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in the whole 2020.)
There are short education and long education in Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. Long education needs 6 years to finish, and some special degree needs even 13 years to get. Every apprentice has to be bone up to pass all the courses and a debate, so then he or she can get the degree given by the Khenpo (the Master). Since the principles in the academy are very strict, no monk is permitted to visit a nun even if they are siblings.
Standing on the hillside under the azure sky, surrounded by green fields, you can appreciate the most shining highlight of Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, namely, the grant view of countless little cabins. Thickly dotted on the hillside, the cabins, where all the monks and nuns live in, spread for miles that you cannot see its ends, being the unique superb view in the world.
At night when all the apprentices stay in their own cabins, all the light lit. At this time, you can see the whole academy is extraordinarily glorious. Every cabin is like a shining colorful star surrounding the golden and silver temples, roads with sparkling golden and blue lights crossing the academy. The splendid nigh view makes Larung Gar Buddhist Academy an attractive photographic scenic spot.
This resplendent and magnificent building is on the highest peak of Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. The Mandala is the place where sacrificial Buddhist activities are held, and usually you can find many people turning their prayer wheels for worshipping here at the upper part of the Mandala. It is said that if you are ill, the sickness will be driven away after you turn the wheel here walkinig for 100 rounds.
On this land full of Buddhist culture, you can find a zillion devoted seekers here reading scriptures and leaning Buddhist course day and night in Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. No matter young or old, they all wear vermilion Buddhist robes. Set off by the blue sky, the dresses on the 20 thousand Buddhist seekers present exquisite and solemn.
Since Larung Gar Buddhist Academy is about 580 km from Chengdu and the road quality is poor, it takes about 9 hours to get there.
There are some buses from Chengdu Chadianzi Bus Station to Serdar County. Depart in the early morning, for about 6-14 hours. (Buy the ticket in advance for 3 days, because the tickets to Sertar County are usually quickly sold out.) You can tell the driver to stop at the crossing of the academy, or you can take a minibus after reaching Sertar.
1. There are two places for stay in the Academy, the Larung Hotel (Tancheng Hotel), and the Fupin Guest House. Environment here is not bad.
2. You can also choose some better hotels around, like Seda Shengcheng Hotel, Seda Shengyu hotel and Seda Foyuan Hotel.
3. If you are lucky to meet a very kind Buddhist ascetic, you can live in his or her house and enjoy the meals.
Larung Gar Buddhist Academy provides vegetarian diet, and you can have meals in the small restaurants downhill but the prices are a little high.
1. It is very wet and often cold in Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, so take enough clothes there. Especially from Oct. to Mar., the temperature is around 10 degree below zero. Take your raincoat, umbrella, anti-slip shoes for the frequent rain.
2. Since it takes a dozen hours to get to the academy and the bus seldom stops on the halfway, it is suggested to drink less.
3. The Buddhist Academy has an altitude of more than 4,000 meters. Take commonly used medicines to deal with urgent cases, like altitude stress, fever, etc. Clinic is accessible in the academy.
4. Take a camera to record the precious moments but do not focus on photography too much, because it is more important to experience the view and Buddhist culture of the academy. But please remember to obey the local rules and customs while photographing, especially when in a solemn situation.
5. Obey the disciplines in the academy, for example, no alcohol, no smoking, no fighting, etc.
Although foreign visitors and residents in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are not allowed to visit Sertar, you can still visit other famous temples in other popular Tibetan areas in Garze including Kangding, Luding, Xinduqiao, Tagong, Bamei, Danba, to enjoy more splendid Tibetan charm without visiting to the far Tibet, which usually takes about 6 and more days according to the destinations you choose. Besides, you can also plan as many other visitors to travel Kangding together with Daocheng Yading to see the “Last Pure Land on Our Blue Planet” for another 1-2 days sightseeing trip!
Moreover, you are also recommended to spend 4-8 days to have a classic exploration of Tibet from Chengdu to discover the nature, Buddhist culture, architecture, etc. in Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, Mount Everest EBC and more!
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