Larung Gar, The Tibetan Monastery Turned Town - Placeaholic

Larung Gar, The Tibetan Monastery Turned Town

We all heard stories about the mighty perseverance and endurance of Tibetan monks. Or, at least, about their ways of living life without thinking about material values, about the needs of the flesh or about tomorrow. This here is no story, Larung Gar is real, and is 

Few places like this actually exist in our contemporary world, and searching for them is made difficult by our inherent and indisputable limitations based on how we, ourselves, and our ancestors, had built this society we’re forced to spin inside of. But once we break the circles and open our eyes, a trip to Larung Gar becomes an option, one amongst the few we should make in our lives.

Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, also known as Serthar Buddhist Institute, lies within the Larung Valley, at a peak of 4.000 meters, sitting only 15 kilometers away from Sertar, in Sertar County, Garze Prefecture. Traditionally, the area is famous by the name of Kham, the Tibetan region of West Sichuan, China. It is here, where, after years of roaming and wandering around this little green planet, your soul will be overwhelmed with joy, an intrinsic happiness which no money nor time can bring.

The settlement is home for approximately 40.000 monks and nuns

The settlement is home for approximately 40.000 monks and nuns, living without any shortage of any sort. Arriving there is an adventure in itself, the journey is long and strenuous, but once you get there, you will forget about everything and become one with the landscape, the view, their little houses, the streets, the colors and the liberating sensation of freedom. The altitude might be considered a problem, at least on the first or two days, but trust us, it is all worth it. Larung Gar is a labyrinth seeking for you to discover and decipher. It is all a part of the quest, losing yourself in the small alleys, learning to celebrate the littlest pleasures this life can bring.

After you become familiar with the scenery, you have to visit at least one of the monasteries. In there, you will be surprised to find out that the monks speak a little English, solemnly greeting you. If you are lucky, one might invite you for a cup of tea back at their house. Remember only that luck favors the brave, so don’t be afraid, politely try so start a conversation without disrupting their rituals or commons. The only biggest problem you might encounter inside the Buddhist Academy is accommodation, as Larung Gar, even if it welcomes all the tourists, it’s not a resort, so profit is not in their interest.

There is one proper hotel though, pricey and always fully booked

The view allows for the entire valley to be visualized, so if you find a room, don’t think twice and take it. The price ranges from 200RMB to 800RMB ($30 – $125) for a double room, with only 15 rooms in total. Down the hill, a few basic guesthouses, with no indoor toilet or shower, are the only second option for a place to stay in. But Larung Valley has nothing to do with all inclusive food, long baths and sipping rose wine. The whole journey starts from Chengdu and should take around three days with public transportation. If you have your own, it should be about one day long. There are two direct bus lines from Chengdu to Sertar. One through Maerkang and the other through Kanding and Luhuo. The vehicles depart from Chengdu at 6.10AM and 6.15AM.

Make time to visit Larung Gar, at least once in your lifetime. Don’t live with the regret that you might have been there, but now it’s too late. Because, at the end, nobody would say he should have spent more day at the office.

A nun stands near a view of the living quarters for students of the Seda Larung Wuming Tibetan Buddhist Institute in Ganzizhou, southwestern China's Sichuan province, on October 1. 2006.
A nun stands near a view of the living quarters for students of the Seda Larung Wuming Tibetan Buddhist Institute in Ganzizhou, southwestern China’s Sichuan province, on October 1. 2006.
A view of the Institute and surrounding houses, facing north, in October of 2013
A view of the Institute and surrounding houses, facing north, in October of 2013
Buddhist nuns and monks walk through Seda Monastery on April 4, 2013
Buddhist nuns and monks walk through Seda Monastery on April 4, 2013
Buddhist nuns and monks walk through Seda on April 4, 2013.
Buddhist nuns and monks walk through Seda on April 4, 2013.
A unique view of what probably is the most peaceful inhabited hill in the world.
A unique view of what probably is the most peaceful inhabited hill in the world.
Larung Gar Buddhist Academy view from above, Easttibet
Larung Gar Buddhist Academy view from above, Easttibet
Possibly the largest religious institute in the world.
Possibly the largest religious institute in the world.
Larung Gar view from above and afar.
Larung Gar view from above and afar.
Thousands of tiny homes sprawl up a mountainside forming one of the world's largest Buddhist Institutes.
Thousands of tiny homes sprawl up a mountainside forming one of the world’s largest Buddhist Institutes.
Seda Buddhist Institute located in Sichuan Province of China, tens of thousands of believers come here to study Buddhism, they all live in a very small little house with red roof.
Seda Buddhist Institute located in Sichuan Province of China, tens of thousands of believers come here to study Buddhism, they all live in a very small little house with red roof.

 

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