* Random images of ... Ganden Monastery April 01 2015

Ganden Monastery lies about 50kms outside Lhasa, in Tibet. Founded in 1409, it was heavily bombed by the Red Guards in the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, following China's Cultural Revolution. With a stunning view over the surrounding valley, it's a terrific place for a day-trip from Lhasa, whilst you acclimatise to the altitude. Tibet at-large is worlds-apart from Western society (which is why you'd see it ..), & a walk-thru the Chapels takes the comparison to another place entirely. Visitors have often just arrived the previous evening in Lhasa, off the Train across the Tibetan Plateau (another mind-widening experience !).

Ganden is a big Monastery, with numerous Chapels, in various stages of rebuild. There are about 200 monks working there now, after having about 2,000 at the time of the 1959 Uprising.  The displays within the Chapels are spectacular, demonstrating the reverence the Tibetans have for their Buddhist faith. The rooms within the Chapels are packed with artifacts, as well as the beautiful banked displays of Yak-Butter Candles, fluttering away. The smell is of incense & an earthy mix of burning Yak Butter, wax & dust, which under-emphasises the impressive nature of what you're seeing, as well as the obvious wealth in the room. 1-Yuan notes are stuffed in every crevice as offerings, & White & Gold silk scarves are twisted around all the Goblets & Bells. The background hum of Tibetan Monks chanting may well have been taped (I don't recall seeing them performing here - that's impressive ..!). It's fair to make the point, here. The Monks are oppressed; struggling under the authoritarian rule of the Chinese superpower situated right-next-door. Everything in Tibetan life is a struggle; particularly the existence of the Monks & the Monasteries.  Dissent is dealt with in the traditions of old-world China - harshly.

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