There is this place…

Larung -image-m-9_1429267845462

Buddhist monastery of Larung Gar, the focal feature of the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, the world’s largest Buddhist settlement.

Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, also known as Serthar Buddhist Institute, is by far the largest Buddhist settlement in the world. Larung Gar sits in the Larung Valley at an elevation of 4,000 meters, about 15 km from the town Sêrtar, in Sertar County, Garze Prefecture in the Tibetan region of Kham.

Inside the village, some 40,000 monks and nuns are segregated and televisions are banned… but iPhones are allowed.larung4

The campus of Larung Gar is enormous. Houses for monks and nuns sprawl all over the valley and up the surrounding mountains. A huge wall through the middle of Larung Gar separates the monk side from the nun side. Monks and nuns are not allowed out of their designated areas except in front of the main monastery assembly hall which is common to both nuns and monks. The houses are all built in a wood style that is traditionally found in this region, and built so close together that they appear almost on top of each other. (From the article in Amusing Planet.)

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The incredible academy was established in 1980 in the uninhabited valley by Jigme Phuntsok, an influential lama of the Nyingma tradition.

Larung Gar is not a place overrun by tourists. For once, its location is quite remote. The nearest large city is Chengdu, some 650 kilometers away. Allow between 13 and 15 hours to reach the settlement by vehicle. Sertar is not particularly eager to host tourists and is often closed to foreign travelers.larung5

More than half of those who come to study are women.  Unlike any other Buddhist monasteries and institutions in other areas of Tibet, Serthar opened its doors to virtually anyone who genuinely sought to become a student of Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok’s ecumenical vision.
larung-gar-19 larung-gar-9[1] larung-gar-12[1]The huts of monks and nuns are segregated by a winding road through the middle.Larung

Ethnic Chinese, Taiwanese, students from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, attend separate classes taught in Mandarin, while larger classes are taught in Tibetan.
Larung Monks_pray_inside_the_biggest_temple_of_the_town_during_hours_In-a-29_1429438485050


Larung Prayer_stones_decorate_the_colourful_Buddhist_academy_which_is_o-a-35_1429438756019

Prayer stones of Larung Gar

larung-gar-10[1]The settlement is also home to a number of Tibetan people who share the land with the monks and nuns.

Larung Gar isn’t on my list of places I’d like to visit before death do me part with this world. However, it’s certainly a unique place, fascinating to know exists. See more pictures here.


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