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The Ganden Sumetseling Monastery

I just got out of the overnight bus from Kunming to Shangri-La. I was still drowsy when I got to the hostel. It wasn't check-in time yet, so I was looking for something to do to pass the time. A French guest was planning to go to Sumetseling Monastery that date. She asked me if I wanted to tag along, since I had nothing and no idea what to do, I decided to join her.

A Glimpse of History and Culture

Ganden Sumetseling or Songzanlin is one of the biggest Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries in China. The construction of this place of worship began in 1679 and finished two years later.

The monastery resembles ancient castles and has two lamaseries, namely Jikang and Zhacang. The monastery has a gilded copper roof, giving it a distinctly Tibetan look.

The views surrounding the monastery were just as beautiful as inside it. There were a lot of other tourists in the area, but not too many to make the trip taxing. The complex was big enough to find a place to just contemplate and take everything in.

The magnificent halls of the monastery depicted Buddhist tales and legends. Beautiful sculptures decorated the cloisters. Other than works of art and elaborate decorations, the complex has several treasures. which include golden figures and lamps, silver censers and others.

The monastery is in a high altitude location, which is around 3,300 meters above sea level. It was cold even in daytime, which for me is a good thing. It was easy to explore the complex because of the cool breeze.

The trip to the complex provided me with a glimpse of Tibetan culture and history. The monastery was also given the moniker 'Little Potala Palace' because of its similarities with its counterpart in Lhasa, Tibet. I didn't regret including this stop in my Yunnan itinerary.

How to Get to the Monastery

The monastery has an entrance fee of RMB 115, but I only paid 105 because I bought my ticket at the hostel I was staying in. You can board a No. 3 bus near the old town in Shangri-La as a cheap option, but you can also ride a taxi for around RMB 20.

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