Welcome to Sertar and Larung Gar Buddhist Academy/Institute. You can find sightseeing spots of Sertar on this page.
Sightseeing Spots of Sertar(Serthar or Seda)
The temples and huge scripture flags surrounding Sertar(Serthar or Seda) have a mysterious religion feeling. It takes much efforts of you to go to Sertar(Serthar or Seda), in the first place you should go to Larong Larung Gar Buddhist Academy and Dongka Temple. They are located in southern county, and it is really convenient to go there by a local van. Believers coming from all directions gathers together here, and then go to different Buddhist resorts on the grassland. Except pagoda and scripture flags, the legend and relics of King Gesar spread all over Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County. National Immaterial Cultural Heritage–Tibetan show of King Gesar is also be performed here.
Larong Larung Gar Buddhist Academy
Larong Larung Gar Buddhist Academy is also called as Sertar(Serthar or Seda) Buddha School (shortened as “Buddha School” in next context), and is the biggest Buddha school in the world. Shags are very spectacular. Thousands of red Tibetan bungalow spreading for several kilometers, surrounding a few splendid temples and Buddha halls, combining a small mountain. This splendid image will shock tourists who are the first time to be here. No one can use pictures to describe the shock. This is a miracle on the mountain established by monks for thousands of years, from which, all you can feel is piety and belief. There are thousands of Lama and Juemu (female believers), monks in red robe walking to and fro. Every one feels peaceful and quiet, without troubles. During Buddhist Puja, there are much more people coming here, about over 40,000 people them.
Taken Scripture Hall as a boundary, above the slope Lama lives there, and Juemu lives under the slope. Near the main hall there are some restaurants and shops. Some Buddhist halls will give away meal at noon, so you can taste the free meal in the temple, or you can go to the Scripture Hall where Han believers are there, to experience the feeling of chanting Buddha. In the evening, you can see old Lama and Juemu bring water from the foot of the mountain to the monastery, which is really a touching scene. Whether you come here for photographing or for knowing Tibetan Buddhism, you will be satisfied and feel devoutness and shock.
History of Larung Gar Buddhist Academy
Buddha School was established in 1980, only over 30 people then. In 1987, the tenth Banchan Lama Great Master approved to establish Buddha School here, so he wrote to Sertar(Serthar or Seda) Government for support. In 1933, Chief of China Buddhism Association, Zhao Puchu, gave inscription to this School. In 1993, it was regarded as “the biggest Buddha School in the world” by World News of America. In 1997, Religion Bureau of Ganzi Prefecture got approval from Religion General Bureau of Sichuan Province, to establish officially “Sertar(Serthar or Seda) Larong Temple Larung Gar Buddhist Academy”. In Buddha School there are long-time study and short-time study. Long-time study is for 6 years, 13 years for special degree. If students are able to pass examinations of all subjects, Lizong Lun and Oral Debate, they can get degree of Khenpo (Rabbi). There are over 4000 Tibetan resident monks, more than 200 Han resident monks, over 100 Han resident lay Buddhist and foreign believers in the School. The rules are very strict there, male and female shags are clearly separated, though brothers and relatives, they can not visit each other.
Tips of Larung Gar Buddhist Academy
1) You don’t have to get permit to visit Larung Gar Buddhist Academy;
2) smoking, drinking and shouting inside Buddhist Academy are forbidden;
3) You should take off your shoes, caps and sunglasses if you want to enter the Halls;
4) Larung Gar Buddhist Academ is more than 20 KM from Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County, and the road condition is very terrible with gribbles and dust, so you have to be very careful while self-driving;
5) If you want to take panorama of Larung Gar Buddhist Academ, you can climb to the slope with scripture flags at southwest of turning wheels.
Address of Larung Gar Buddhist Academy: in Luoruo Town of Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County, about 20 KM from the County
Website: http://www.zhibeifw.com/ (you can check the exact time of Puja every year)
Contact: 0836-8523811; 0836-8523821 (you can ask information of Puja, lesson, meditation and giving offerings)
Opening Time: all day
1) You can take bus at Chadianzi Station from Chengdu to Sertar(Serthar or Seda), about 14 hours of driving, ticket of 206 Yuan, after getting off the bus in front of Buddha School, then you can walk about 30 minutes to arrive there;
2) You can charter a van from Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County, cost of about 25 per van;
Touring Time: half day
Undoubtedly Mandala is the place which is most close to Buddha in the whole Sertar(Serthar or Seda), originated from Indian Mahayana Buddhism, which is Dojo of the tantric deity and their dependents. Mandala means circle in Sanskrit, and means center and edge in Tibetan. There are two floors of Mandala. You can give incense money on the first floor, and there are 108 wheels. People come here to worship every morning, and walk 10800 circles for the first-level prayer, 1080 circles for the second-level prayer, and 108 circles for the third-level prayer. Believers turn the wheels while chanting, and the wheels give sounds of creaks. After thousands of times of turning, wheels are like gold-plated based on original gold. On the open ground of Mandala, there are always pious believers kowtowing there, so School put wooden plank on the first floor.
Tips for Mandala
1) While walk around Mandala, you have to obey Tibetan customs, turning in the direction of clock-wise, never in the direction of anti-clockwise.
2) Girls who are timid don’t get too close to the turning wheels, because sometimes some people will put small dead animals under wheels to do transgression for them.
3) Last but not least, if you see some people carry a big bag to walk around Mandala, please don’t go to disturb them or take photos, because they are carrying dead body of their relatives and do transgression for them.
Address: on top of the mountain inside Buddha School in Sertar(Serthar or Seda)
Opening Time: all day
Transportation: you can walk there in School
Touring Time: 2 hours
Tibetan Sky Burial Platform
Sky Burial is the local and unique customs in Tibetan area, as well as the funeral method of most Tibetan people. Sertar(Serthar or Seda) Sky Burial Platform was built on a slight and flat slope on the middle of the mountain. Near a small white pagoda, there is an open ground with steel rails covering area like a basketball field, which is the place for celestial burial. Sky Burial, is to offer dead body for vultures—incarnation of holy dakini. After vultures eat dead body and fly to the sky, Tibetan people think that the dead enter the door of Heaven.
According to local customs, the dead body should put for days, ask Lama to do transgression, and select another day to hold funeral. Sky Burial Master take off the clothes of the dead, dissect the body gradually, and separate bones and flesh. Finally he will whistle vultures to feed them in order of bones first and flesh second. Visitors should be brave enough to watch Sky Burial ceremony in Sertar(Serthar or Seda).
1) Try not to get too close to Celestial Burial Spot before the funeral begins, nor stand on the road near the way vultures fly through, to avoid getting hurt by vultures;
2) During funeral, you should respect Tibetan customs, don’t shout, not take photos of the dead;
3) You’d better wear a mask because the smell is very strong near Celestial Burial Spot.
Address: 7 KM from southeastern Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County
Opening Time: from 1 PM to 4 PM
Transportation: no bus directly to the spot, you should walk about 20 minutes to get there from Buddha School; if chartering a van, cost about 50 Yuan per van
Touring Time: 2 hours
Dongga Temple(or dongka temple)
Dongga(dongka) Temple is the famous Mangolian Lamaism Temple in Tibetan area, regarded as one of Sertar(Serthar or Seda) Three Temples. This temple was built by Quxi Wujin in 1686, located in a mountain like a white seashell. Inside the temple, there is a Sakyamuni Seating Buddha, the walls are painted with religious fresco, the red columns are craved with shining and colorful dragon and flowers, and the atmosphere is also very serious and solemn.
This temple holds various Puja every year, big or small, especially Lian Master Prayer Puja form March 1 to March 10. During that period, monks chant to hope a peaceful world and happy human’s world, perform Tibetan plays, dance Fete and hold other Buddhist activities. It is really spectacular, and tourists can visit and experience it. Nowadays inside temple there are Exoteric and Esoteric College and Retreat Meditation College, more than 400 resident monks there.
Address: 6 KM from northwestern Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County
Opening Time: from 8 AM to 5 PM
Transportation: no bus directly to there, you should charter a van or drive your own car to go; 10 Yuan per person if chartering a van
Touring Time: 3 hours
Dengdeng Qudeng Pagoda
It is the biggest pagoda in Tibetan area, which means “vanquish demons pagoda”, built in 1913 in Tibetan calendar. The main building is round inside and square outside, and there are all kinds of splendid Buddha niche. The outer circle is turning wheels room, 155 turning wheels, big or small, for believers to turn the wheels. Inside the pagoda there are Five Dharani which has been wrote for thousands of times, Buddha classics, and few ancient old relics including scripture classics collection from India during Tubo Dynasty. For this purpose, every year more and more believers continue to visit there from Qinghai, Gansu, and southern and northern Prefecture. In the pagoda, there are Sakyamuni, Padmasambhava, Amitabha, Tara, Vajradhara, and other Buddhas, and 1000 Bodhisattva, which is really splendid.
Address: In Seke Town in Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County, 1.5 KM from the county
Opening Time: from 7 AM to 5 PM
Transportation: You can walk here from the county
Touring Time: 2 hours
Gesar Culture Museum
Inside the museum there are many exhibitions in the form of stone craving, statue and Gesar Tibetan play about Gesar culture. Now it is not a very big Museum, only several small but delicate exhibition halls. However, it is very difficult to find a museum about Gesar culture, so tourists who are interested about it can go to see.
History of King Gesar
King Gesar is the hero and God in Tibetan legend, as well as the chief of the tribe. He was very brave and kind when he was young. After he grew up, he vanquished the evil and developed the good, and then conquered and united his tribe, finally he led Tibetan people to a better life. King Gesar’s hero stories and great deeds were spread by Tibetan people generation after generation, and many singers sing his stories by oral songs. During this process, some contents may be deleted or changed, not so fixed, but stories become more rich and plots more interesting. Some people collected these stories and gradually became the epic with thousands of years’ history—King Gesar. Many famous stories gradually became partly formal or informal written literature. As an orally epic, there will be one thousand King Gesar in one thousand people.
Address: East Jinma Street in Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County
Opening Time: from 9 AM to 11 AM on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Transportation: to walk there in the county
Touring Time: 2 hours
Zhuri God Mountain
The main peak of Zhuri God Mountain is 4961 meters of altitude, and is the highest peak in Sertar(Serthar or Seda). People in Sertar(Serthar or Seda) really respect Zhuri God Mountain, and take is as Protection God of Jinma Grassland. There are many relics about King Gesar on the mountain, like Zhumu’s water buckets, hitching post and 30 generals’ tombs.
When every Jinma Festival on May 4 in Tibetan calendar (details on page 9), female people in Sertar(Serthar or Seda) bring fresh cypress branches, and gather together at the foot of the mountain, beating drums. After giving fire offerings, they will hold horse racing, wishing have a good harvest and domestic animals thrive.
Address: inside Seke Town at northwestern Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County
Transportation: to charter a van from Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County, about 20 Yuan per person
Se’erba Tibetan Village
Se’erba is the territory of one General Chief of King Gesar’s generals—Se’erwa• Nibengdaya. Tibetan houses here are very different from those of other counties, and these are “General-Style” house, which are made of stones, mud and wood. Even the house roofs are not made from tiles but mud. Besides, the shape of houses are very unique, in the form of the Chinese character “品”, which is like a general with a helmet on head and tabard on body. This not represents the superb architecture skills of Tibetan people but also the symbol of wisdom and heroism of Tibetan nation.
Address: at the crossroad of 317 State Road and Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County Road, in Wedada Town of Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County,
Opening Time: all day
Transportation: You can take bus from Sertar(Serthar or Seda) County to Luhuo, or you can charter a van to go there, about 40 Yuan per person
Touring Time: 2 hours