Ramoche Monastery (Chinese Name: 小昭寺) is located in the northwest of Lhasa, covering a total area of 4000 square meters. The original complex was first built by Han Chinese architects in the middle of the 7th century (during the Tang Dynasty). Therefore the temple is a wonderful combination of Han and Tibetan architectural styles. Nowadays, Ramoche Monastery has become the very place for the Tibetan monks to study sutra.
Ramoche Monastery consists of three floors, the lower floor consists of a portico, sutra and Buddha halls, which are surrounded by a corridor for ritual perambulations. The walls of the corridor are covered with painted statues of the Amitabha Buddha. The top storey is covered with Han – style golden tiles which glisten in the sun and can be seen from all corners of Lhasa. The Lhasa Upper Tantric College for monks of the Gelug Sect has been established in Ramoche Monastery, and the college abbot also serves as the abbot of the monastery.
Ramoche Monastery’s reputation and scale is far less than the Jokhang Temple, also it is not as busy as Jokhang Temple. But it has its own characteristic.
Ramoche Monastery was burning into ruins for several times in the history, the existing Ramoche Monastery buildings are mostly repaired in the later time, only the underlying Buddha palace is left in ites original state. The ten pillars in the house are remaining in Tubo style: it carved with encased lotus and with flowers, plants, cirrus clouds, jewelry, and particular Tibetan Characters of Om Mani Padme Hum. Ramoche Monastery has three stories. The first floor includes an atrium, a scripture hall, and a Buddha palace with winding corridor, and corridor wall paint with Amitayus Buddha. The overstory of the monastery is the Han-style golden peak which is glittering, and upturned eave can be seen from any direction in Lhasa city.
Ramoche Monastery architectural style is a wonderful example of the combination of Han and Tibetan architectural styles. The original temple management is also hosted by Han monk, so Ramoche Monastery is not only one of the earliest temples in Tibet, and is a symbol of friendship in Sino-Tibetan two national unities which occupies a very important position in the history of ethnic relations.
What to See
Ramoche Monastery is situated in the northwest of Lhasa, covering a total area of 4000 square meters (one acre). The original building complex has a strong Tang architecture influence, for it was first built by Han Chinese architects in the middle of the 7th century (during the Tang Dynasty).
The main building has three floors and the first floor is composed of an atrium, a scripture hall and a Buddha palace with winding corridors. In the both side inside the atrium is houselet with partition door, the right room is the place for instruments, and the left room is side hall in the temple where propitiate Kampot horse statue made by pomegranate branch. The second floor has a chapel shrining statue of Buddha when he was 8 year old. The third floor is the bedroom for Dalai Lama.
Behind the atrium is scripture hall. The scripture is 7 rooms deep, 3 rooms wide, and there are 30 columns. The central of 4 big columns erected straight above hold up high on the second floor to open sunroof. The column is 6.2 meters high, 0.46 meters in diameter; the remaining 26 column is 2.8 meters high, 0.48 meters in diameter. The head of columns are encased lotus flowers, coiling cloud, jewelry.
Cleanroom and Buddha Palace
On both sides of the cleanroom door there are for four major heavenly kings clay sculpture. The last part is the Buddha palace, 2 columns inner without plinth, covers an area of 23.5 square meters. The surface of large column twisted with hemp rope and then painted with 2 ~ 3 cm mud cake daub, which might be the anticorrosion and fire prevention measures. Chapiter was carved with lotus throne, and the small arch of chapiter without decoration, has obvious characteristics of early time. Inside there are gilt bronze Buddha Aksobhya and eight Vupasama disciples clays brought by Nepal princess Bhrikuti, and two wrathful deities and Tsongkhapa statue.
In the back of Buddha palace and on both sides of Buddha palace is surrounded by closed winding corridor, narrow, higher, and has the characteristic of early layout. In the second floor of Buddha Palace, the first part is monk domicile, and the middle part is the main assembly hall patio, after the patio is hall worshiped Buddha. In front part of the third floor is the private apartment for Dalai Lama when he comes to this temple, a total of 6 rooms. At the back is goldentop temple of about 54.5 square meters, with two rows of eight columns and open small windows in the right and left. Goldentop is Han style and inside door murals and columns are Tibetan style, embodies the clever union of Han and Tibetan architecture.
The establishment of Ramoche Monastery has close relation with the marriage of princess Wencheng and Sontzen Gampo. In A.D. 641, the Tang emperor gave Sakyamuni Buddha statue, treasures, treasures bookcase, three hundred and sixty rolls of the classic, gold ornaments etc, as princess dowry. Before the princess Wencheng went to Tibet in 634 AD, Bal-po (Nepal) king Amshuverma had married his daughter Princess Bhrikuti to Sontzen Gampo, and when princess Bhrikuti came to Tibet also brought with a statue of Sakyamuni like, classics of mahayana Buddhism, all kinds of exquisite crafts and artisans, and so on. Shortly after the princess Wencheng came to Tibet, princess Wencheng assisted the princess Bhrikuti built the Jokhang temple,” at the same time, also called for a lot of good workmen from central plains to build Ramoche Monastery.
During the havoc ten years period of Cultural Revolution, Ramoche Monastery was fatal damaged. Some buildings were demolished and some statues of cultural relics were ransacked, monks left the temple, gone to its former glory and splendor, Ramoche Monastery was used as a warehouse.
In 1986, due to the religious policy of Chinese government and the local government attaches great importance to support, began to large scale maintenance of Ramoche Monastery, made Ramoche Monastery a new look, represented extraordinary splendor.
It is said that when princess Wencheng came to Tibet, the Han herculean Jiaqie and Luqie two people used wood car to send Sakyamuni Buddha to Tibet. When they passed by today’s Ramoche Monastery, wood car sank in the sand, they had to stand column around and covered a white silk. Well-read princess Wencheng found that here was the location of dragon temple through traditional chinese mathematics and astronomy, so she decided to put the Sakyamuni Buddha in this place, and build a temple for propitiating Buddha, and thought that it could be a deterrent for dragon and made the country prosperity. Ramoche Monastery overall construction completed smoothly after a year of time. After that, the Tibetan king Sontzen Gampo arranged the celebration feast, and performed consecration. Ramoche Monastery is located west toward the east, is said to be designed for homesickness of princess Wencheng. In order to build Ramoche Monastery, princess Wencheng called the mainland exquisite craftsman, based on Han temple as model, combined with the characteristics of Tibetan architecture, and built a magnificent temple.
How to get to Ramoche Monastery
You may take bus No.1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 12, 14, and 16 to Remuqi stop (热木其站); Walk 10 minutes from Jokhang Temple.