Sera Monastery

Address: Sera Middle Road, Chengguan District, Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China

In the early 15th century, Shakya Yeshe who was given the title of Jamchen Choje, meaning Dharma Lord of Great Compassion, by Emperor Xuande founded Sera Monastery. During the monastery’s heyday in the 17th century, there were 5,500 monks, turning it into a significant university monastery. Around 600 lamas are living in the monastery now.

Witnessing the Tibetan Buddhist debate is definitely on the must-do list for your visit in Sera Monastery. Tibetan Buddhist debate is not exclusive to Sera Monastery, but the debate here is held every Monday to Friday from 15:00-17:00. Moreover, it is the most famous one because it is open to the public.

Hundreds of lamas gather at the open area of the monastery. Some express their views passionately; some discuss in small groups in a low voice. Lamas sometimes shrug reluctantly; sometimes applaud; sometimes frown and are sunk in thought; sometimes gesticulate joyfully after acquiring new knowledge. Although most tourists do not understand the debate due to language barriers, the amusing scene still allows them to understand the lamas’ pursuit of knowledge in Buddhism.