Tibetan Sacred Space Research Guide: Monasteries, Temples, and Catalogs

Monasticism - General

Central Tibet

Zhongguo Xizang si miao = Monasteries in China's Tibet. In Chinese and English.

Kadampa sites of Phempo : a guide to some early Buddhist monasteries in central TibetIncludes early primary source material in English translation.

Catalogs of liturgical depository objects of four renown monasteries:  (In Tibetan only.)

  1. Sku mkhar chen po Yum-bu-bla-sgang gi dkar chag ʾbring po...

  2. Nang-wūth[?] Gtsug-lag Khang che moʾi dkar chag bzhugs so

  3. Zhwa Lha-khang gi dkar chag bzhugs so

  4. ʾPhrul-snang Gtsug-lag-khang gi nang mjal drug gi dkar chag mkhas paʾi ngag sgron bzhugs so


Chos-lung Monastery. In Tibetan and Chinese.


Olaf Czaja. Golden Visions of Densatil: A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. NY: Asia Society Museum. 17-56.


“Drepung Monastery” on the Tibetan & Himalayan Library: http://www.thlib.org/places/monasteries/drepung/ (accessed Aug. 8, 2013).

Dpal-ldan-ʾbras-spungs dgon pa = Drepung Monastery = Zhaibung Si. Beijing : Zhongguo min zu she ying yi shu chu ban she, 1999. In Tibetan, Chinese, and English.

Drigung Tel

ʾBri-gung Thel-dgon gyi lo rgyus rags bsdus = History of ʾBri-gung Thel-dgon monastery of Bkaʾ-brgyud-pa sect in Lhasa, Tibet. In Tibetan and Chinese.

ʾBri-gung dur khrod rten ʾphyag chen moʾi lo rgyus gnad bsdus = 直孔天葬台简介History of the Tibetan Buddhist ʾBri-gung cremation ground, located northeast of Lhasa (Tibet Autonomous Region); also called ʾBri-gung Thel-dgon gyi dur khrod.* funerary sites as sacred places?


Venturi, Federica (trans). 2002. Guide to the Rdzing phyi monasterẏ. Roma: Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente.


Gdan sa chen po Dgaʼ-ldan-rnam-par-rgyal-baʼi-gling gi gnas yig mdor bsdus zhes bya ba bzhugs so = 甘丹寺简志 . Bilinguial guidebook to Dgaʼ-ldan-rnam-par-rgyal-baʼi-gling (Ganden Monastery; Tib. Dgaʼ ldan Dgon), an important seat of the Gelukpa School of Tibetan Buddhism, located in Stag-rtse County (Ch. Dazi), Lhasa District, Tibet Autonomous Region. 205 pages, plates, color illustrations, portraits.  In Tibetan and Chinese.


Brief introduction to the Mindroling monastery = ʼOg-min Oyn Smin-grol-gling dgon gyi ngo sprod rags bsdus = 宁玛祖庭敏珠林寺 / editor, Abbot Xixa, Damchu Tenzin. 36 pages. Illustrated guide to Mindroling, a Tibetan Buddhist Nyingma monastery in Cental Tibet, and some of its religious objects. In Tibetan, Chinese and English


Gnas-chung Dgon = Nechung Monastery. History of Gnas-chung Rdo-rje-sgra-dbyangs-gling in Lhasa, Tibet and it's catalog. In Tibetan and Chinese. *contemporary source


Iuchi, Maho. An early text on the history of Rwa sgreng Monastery : the Rgyal ba'i dben gnas Rwa sgreng gi bshad pa nyi ma'i'od zer of 'Brom Shes rab me lce. Cambridge, MA : Department of South Asian Studies, Harvard Unversity, 2016. Traditional account of Reting Monastery, with analysis. In English, translated from Tibetan.


“Sera Monastery” on the Tibetan & Himalayan Library: 
http://www.thlib.org/places/monasteries/sera/ (accessed Aug. 8, 2013). 

Yangri Gar

ʾBri-gung Bkaʾ-brgyud kyi chos sde che mo Yang-ri sgar dgon Thub-bstan-sde-bzhi-rab-rgyas-gling gi dkar chag mdor bsdus dgeʾo = 羊日岗寺简介 = History of Yang-ri monastery. Catalog of Yangri Gar, a Drigung Kagyu monastery located northeast of Lhasa (Tibet Autonomous Region) in Meldro Gungkar. In Tibetan and Chinese.

Temples in Central Tibet

Temples of Lhasa: Tibetan Buddhist Architecture from the 7th to the 21st Centuries (Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2005),

Tsepön W.D.Shakabpa’s Catalogue and Guide to the Central Temple of Lhasa (1982).  By a 20th century Tibetan writer. In Tibetan.

Gyurme Dorje (trans). Jokhang: Tibet’s Most Sacred Buddhist Temple. In Jokhang, ed. Gyurme Dorje, Tashi Tsering, Heather Stoddard, and André Alexander. London: Edition Hansjörg Mayer, 2010.

André Alexander, “Lhasa Tsukla-khang: An Indian Vihara in Tibet,” chap. 1 in The Temples of Lhasa: Tibetan Buddhist Architecture from the 7th to the 21st Centuries (Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2005), 27-45. (see abovle)

Warner, Cameron David. “Re/Crowning the Jowo S´Ākyamuni: Texts, Photographs, and Memories.” History of Religions, vol. 51, no. 1, 2011, pp. 1–30. 

Ngag-dbang-blo-bzang-rgya-mtsho. "Description of Lhasa cathedral," Journal, Asiatic society of Bengal, vol. lxiv, part 1, no. 3, 1895."  Description of the Jokhang Temple by the 5th Dalai Lama, translated by L.A. Waddell.  In English.

https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/4915683 -- must be viewed onsite at Burke Library

OR: https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/9220199 -- links to e-version of Journal

OR: https://www-biodiversitylibrary-org.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/bibliography/51678#/summary

Thundering falcon : an inquiry into the history and cult of Khra-'brug, Tibet's first Buddhist temple / Per K. Sørensen and Guntram Hazod, in cooperation with Tsering Gyalbo. Wien : Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2005. In English.

Western Tibet


Tropper, Kurt. Inscription in the 'Du khang of Dgung 'phur monastery, Spu rang (Mnga' ris). Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, [2016] Includes translation of primary source for monastery in western Tibet. In English, translated from Tibetan. 


Klimburg-Salter, Deborah. Tabo: A Lamp for the Kingdom. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.

For other studies on Tabo Monastery, see CLIO

Temples in Western Tibet

L. Petech and C. Luczanits (eds). Inscriptions from the Tabo Main Temple: Texts and Translations.

Eastern Tibet

The monasteries of Amdo : a comprehensive guide to the monasteries of the Amdo Region of Tibet


塔尔寺 = Sku-ʼbum Byams-pa-gliṅ = Taer Lamasery Illustrated guide to Kumbum Monastery, which is associated with the Gelukpa School of Tibetan Buddhism and situated in Huangzhong Xian, Qinghai Province;  includes descriptions of each institute (grwa-tshang), the residences of associated reincarnate lamas, etc.137 pages. Published 1984. In Chinese, English, Tibetan.


Nietupski, Paul. Labrang Monastery: A Tibetan Buddhist Community on the Inner Asian. Secondary study of Labrang Tashikyil Monastery in Gansu Province, with some references to primary sources. e-book; print edition.

Yangdon Dhondup,Ulrich Pagel and Geoffrey Samuel, eds.  Monastic and lay traditions in north-eastern TibetLeiden : Brill, 2013.

Temples in Eastern Tibet

Karl Debreczeny. "Imperial interest made manifest: Sga A gnyan dam pa's Mahakala Protector Chapel of the Tre shod Mandala Plain," In Trails of the Tibetan Tradition: Papers for Elliot Sperling, ed. by Roberto Vitali. Dharamsala: Amnye Machen Institute, 2014, p. 129-166. 


Isabelle Charleux, "Buddhist monasteries in Southern Mongolia (China)." In The Buddhist monastery : a cross-cultural survey.  Études thématiques ; 12.  Paris : École française d'extrême-orient, 2003.


Charleux, Isabelle and Goosaert, Vincent. "The Physical Buddhist Monastery in China." In The Buddhist monastery : a cross-cultural survey.  Études thématiques ; 12.  Paris : École française d'extrême-orient, 2003: pages 305-350.

Holmes, Welch.  The practice of Chinese Buddhism. Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 1967. (draws extensively on Prip-Moller, see below)

Prip-Møller, J. (Johannes). Chinese Buddhist Monasteries: Chinese Buddhist monasteries : their plan and its function as a setting for Buddhist monastic life Copenhagen : G. E. C. Gad; London : Oxford University Press, 1937.