Origin of the name of Tibet's 1st monastery

Samye Monastery [Photo/Agencies]
Samye Monastery [Photo/Agencies]

Samye Monastery, built in the eighth century, is the oldest Buddhist monastery in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, sitting at the mountain area of Chanang County in southern Lhoka Prefecture.

It is said that after over ten years of construction, Trisong Detsen(742-797), a king of Tubo Kingdom(618-842), brooked no delay to see the monastery mensurated by Padmasambhava and designed by Shantarakshita. To meet the king’s desire, Padmasambhava deployed magic to display the mirage of the monastery in his own hand. Seeing it, the king exclaimed: "Samye". The first monastery with Buddha, doctrines and ordained lamas in the history of Tibet got its name "Samye"(meaning "unexpected") in this way.

Located in Lhoka Prefecture, Samye Monastery has the tradition of performing the sorcerer's dance during the Doldhe Festival since its inauguration. From the early morning of the first day of Doldhe Festival, there would be about three thousand people waiting in front of the central hall for the sorcerer's dance.

The monastery is surrounded by white walls on which there are 1,028 white pagodas. It is said that each pagoda enshrines a piece of Buddhist relics. For over one thousand years, these pagodas have attracted numerous pilgrims from home and abroad quietly.

Located on the northern bank of Yarlung Zangbo River, the picturesque Samye Monastery is unique in terms of appearance, cultural relics and historical background, known as the "golden top of the roof of the world".