Gadan Monastery


This panoramic view of the Gah-Idan monastery (also seen as Gadan or Ganden in other sources) is from a collection of 50 photographs of central Tibet acquired in 1904 from the Imperial Russian Geographical Society in Saint Petersburg by the American Geographical Society. The mountain on the right is the Brog ri and the mountain on the left is the Wan-kur-ri (also seen as Wangbur). The Tibetan religious philosopher and teacher of Buddhism, Tson-kha-pa (also seen as Tsongkhapa, Tson-k'apa, or Tsongk'apa in other sources) was the founder of the monastery, as well as of the now dominant lamaist sect Ge-lug-pa (also seen as Gelugpa) or “the virtuous order.” Tson-kha-pa is buried in the shrine to the left of the principal temple of Tsug-lak'an, to whose main entrance a double flight of steps lead. The house where Tson-kha-pa lived and died is to the right of Tsug-lak'an. In Tibet (1890), W.W. Rockhill writes: “The circumference of this monastery is about three-quarters of a mile. There are numerous well-built temples, with idols much the same as those at Sera. It is reported to be a very wealthy monastery, and is occupied by 3000 priests. The Tibetans say that the Kant-tan mountain was the residence of Tson-k'a-pa, a perfectly enlightened man. It is more-over said that he was Jeng-teng-ku Fo (Dipankara Buddha). Inside there is a hall of the classics with images of gods, pendant scrolls of silk, and gorgeous canopies; it is very grand, nearly equal to the Jok'ang or Ramoch'e [temples]. A K'an-po lama, who expounds and discourses on the yellow doctrine, resides here.” The photographs in this collection were taken by two Mongolian Buddhist lamas, G.Ts. Tsybikov and Ovshe (O.M.) Norzunov, who visited Tibet in 1900 and 1901. Accompanying the photos is a set of notes written in Russian for the Imperial Russian Geographical Society by Tsybikov, Norzunov, and other Mongolians familiar with central Tibet. Alexander Grigoriev, corresponding member of the American Geographical Society, translated the notes from Russian into English in April 1904.

Last updated: March 22, 2016