Located at the foot of Foping Mountain about five kilometers away from Shangri La County, Yunnan Province, Songzanlin Monastery with castle style architecture and Tibetan features is crowned as Tibetan Art Museum.Songzanlin Monastery also known as Ganden Monastery or Guihui Monastery is not only the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan but the center of Gelu (a sect of Tibetan Buddhism) in Sichuan and Yunnan as well. Honored as the Little Potala Palace Songzanlin Monastery is definitely a wonderful place to experience the mystery and traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
Built in the style of Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, the magnificent monastery complex resides on top of a hill and consists of the two Zhacang and Jikang lamaseries. Walking up the 146 steps that lead to the main prayer hall is a tiring exercise at 3,300 meters above sea level, but it allows you to trace mentally the pilgrimage route that generations of devout Buddhists living on the plateau take on their knees and foreheads every year.
On the way, you™ll come across study rooms where young monks who typically enter the monk hood at the age of 5 are trained in the scriptures and foundations of monastic life. Having a conversation with a young lama is indeed an interesting experience, if you are fortunate enough to speak Mandarin or Tibetan. The main scripture hall in the center of the compound is the highlight of any visit, especially during prayer time in the morning or during auspicious festivals when devotees come from all over the province to take part in the festivities.