The people who contact us for travel in Tibet are usually looking for an authentic and spiritual experience rather than a commercial tour. They want to visit sacred Buddhist sites and connect with Tibetan people. What many people don’t know is that a great way to have an authentic experience is to travel in the Eastern Tibetan regions of Kham and Amdo. In this post we introduce you to one of the great Tibetan monasteries and centers of Buddhist learning, Dzogchen Monastery (gompa) in Kham. For spiritual seekers, Dzogchen is perfect — remote enough to be off the beaten path, set in a stunning valley, with a deep Buddhist history, and alive with the practice and teaching of the “Great Perfection.”
To give you a taste, here is a photo gallery of images taken by YoWangdu’s Yolanda O’Bannon on an October 2015 trip. See Yolanda’s post on “the best day of the trip” here: Dzogchen: A Day in the Great Perfection. After the photo gallery, there’s a brief history of Dzogchen Monastery and two short videos. The first is of a group of local nomads in a prayer session on a cold evening and the second gives you a view of the inside of Dzogchen’s main assembly hall (dukhang).
Dzogchen Monastery: A Brief History
Dzogchen Monastery was founded in Tibet in the late 17th century, in the “hidden” Rudam Valley. Over time it developed into a great center of learning and one of the great monasteries in Tibet. It is one of the six great seats of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, and a spiritual home of the dzogchen – “Great Perfection” – tradition of teachings.
The monastery is distinguished in part by its history of meditation and retreat. Some of the very greatest Buddhist masters, including Patrul Rinpoche have meditated, taught and written great Buddhist texts in the hermitage caves above Dzogchen. Patrul Rinpoche wrote one of the classic Buddhist texts, the Words of My Perfect Teacher there.
The entire monastery was destroyed by the Chinese in 1959, and has been under major reconstruction since the 1980s, with a number of significant buildings restored, including the main assembly hall, the dukhang. Around 300 monks live and are being trained at Dzogchen Monastery now.
A newer retreat center and temple, Pema Tang, was built near the end of the Rudam valley. You can see this in the photo gallery at the post.
Would you like to travel to Kham?
If you would like an introduction to a reliable, Tibetan-owned agency for Kham or Amdo, we can help. Fill out the short form here, at no cost or obligation.