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Monasteries

Drak Yerpa

Drak Yerpa View on the Yerpa Chu valley
In the main season, early in the morning between 6:00 and 7:00 hours, pilgrim busses are leaving from the square in front of the Jokhang to the site of Drak Yerpa. In about an hour the bus takes you to one of the most important meditation sites in the environment of Lhasa, where Songtsen Gampo, Padmasambhava and Atisha and many other Tibetan masters did find a retreat in their time. Lhalung Pelgyi Dorje, the monk who assasinated king Langdarma in the 9th century, hid in the caves of Drak Yerpa after his deeds.
Drak Yerpa Rock sculptures of four-armed Chenrezig (left) and Vajrapani (Chana Dorje)
The site of Drak Yerpa is scattered with caves and temples clinging from the cliffs, and with 'self-arising' images and other reliquaries such as the footprints of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava). If you have taken the pilgrim bus you can go with the flow of pilgrims to find your way. Be prepared for some steep climbs.
Drak Yerpa Rock paintings
Drak Yerpa Temple hanging on the rocks
Drak Yerpa Temple hanging on the rocks

Drak Yerpa View on ruins at the entrance
The Yerpa Drubde monastery was destroyed by Chinese forces in 1959. The ruins of this Kadampa monastery can still be seen at the entrance of Drak Yerpa. In recent years Drak Yerpa attracts again many Buddhist followers.

According to a report from the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy in April 1998 "work team" members ordered the demolition of the main hall and the meditation caves. Prayer flags were torn and the ropes from the flags were used to tie up the wooden planks from the destroyed prayer hall. The 120 monks and hermits in this retreat including Lama Azom Trulku were ordered to leave the site. At present there are only 11 monks in the retreat and they are forced to pay rent to the Chinese authorities".

As said, in the main season, early in the morning between 6:00 and 7:00 hours, pilgrim busses are leaving from the square in front of the Jokhang to the site of Drak Yerpa. The ride takes about an hour. Normally you won't be asked for your visum, but in Tibet you never know.

References:
[1] Keith Dowman. The Power-places of Central Tibet. Timeless Books, New Delhi. 1988.
[2] Gyurme Dorje. Tibet Handbook. Footprint, 2004.
[3] Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
[4] World Tibet Network News, June 1998.
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