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Sera Monastery

Sera Monastery Tour

The Sera Monastery, located in the northern suburb of Lhasa City, is one of the 'great three' Gelug Sect's monasteries in Lhasa along with the Drepung Monastery and the Ganden Monastery. Sera means wild rose in Tibetan language and the reason why the monastery got this name is the hill behind it was covered with wild roses in bloom when the monastery was built. Sera Monastery, as a complex of structures with the Great Assembly Hall and three colleges, was founded in 1419 by Jamchen Chojey of Sakya Yeshe of Zel Gungtang (1355–1435), a disciple of Tsongkhapa and was home to more than 5,000 monks. Currently, there are only a few hundred monks. The Sera Monastery covers an area of 114,946 square meters (28 acres). The monastery consists of three colleges, thirty residential compounds and one great hall. The main buildings of Sera Monastery are the Coqen Hall, Zhacang (college) and Kamcun(dormitory).
In these halls, you can find scriptures written in gold powder, fine statues, scent cloth and unparalleled murals. The great hall, built in 1710, is the largest building in the monastery. Inside the hall, there is a statue of the founder of Sera - Sakya Yeshe, located between the statues of the fifth and thirteenth Dalai Lamas. In the back of the hall, there are several chapels dedicated to different gods. The monastery was also home to the largest college in the area and instructed many monks outside the region. The religious status may not as high as Jokhang Temple, the size scale may not as large as Drepung Monastery, but the Sera Monastery enjoys its own features. Sera Monastery is famous for its "Buddhism Scriptures Debating", so the best time to visit is in the afternoon when the monks are debating in the courtyards. Colorful debates on Buddhist doctrines are held here and these employ a style distinctive from those at Lhasa's other famous monasteries.
Debates among monks on the Buddhist doctrines are integral to the learning process in the colleges in the Sera Monastery complex. This facilitates better comprehension of the Buddhist philosophy to attain higher levels of study. In the Sera monastery, the debate alternated by rituals has a daily schedule (with alterations to suit the climatic season) of the Morning debate (7 AM to 10 AM), Noon debate (11 AM to 1 PM), Afternoon debate (2 PM to 4 PM) and Night debate (8.30 PM to 9.30 PM). Visitors also can attend to witness these debates that are held as per a set schedule, every day in the 'Debating Courtyard' of the monastery. Here is some guide information for your tour to the Jokhang Temple: It is about 15 minutes’ drive from city center to Sera Monastery, with about CNY12 to take a taxi; Admission Fee: CNY55; Opening Hours: 09:00-16:00.

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Question:I heard that lamas in Sere Monastery practise buddhist scripture debating everyday. And it is open to public for tourists to visit. When would that debate start? Any extra charges if I want to see it? Can we take photos?

Answer:Yes, there is buddhist scripture debating ceremony in Sere Monastery every afternoon on 3:00pm (excepet for Sunday). No extra fees for that apart from admissions. Pictures are allowed. The lama debating has become an attraction of Sere Monastery.