Being the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan, Songzanlin Monastery, also known as Guihua Monastery, is one of the famous monasteries in the Kang region. The monastery is located near Shangri -La County, at the foot of Foping Mountain.
Construction of the monastery began in 1679 and was completed two years later. The monastery seems like a group of ancient castles and is composed of two lamaseries, Zhacang and Jikang. The gilded copper roof endows the monastery with strong Tibetan features and the 108 (an auspicious number in Buddhism) columns downstairs also feature the monastery with characteristics of Han nationality. The main halls in the monastery are magnificent, and on both the left and the right sides are wonderful frescos, depicting Buddhist tales and legends. The inside-halls are exquisite with cloisters running through. The cloisters are all decorated with beautiful sculptures and consummate frescos.
The monastery is full of treasures. There are a lot of golden figures of Buddha josses, golden lamps, Tibetan lections, silver censers and so on. All of these are wonderful collections accumulated from each dynasty. They are precious productions made by people of both Tibet nationality and Han nationality.
Songzanlin Monastery has another alias - 'the little Potala Palace ', so named because the whole monastery is in the traditional style with mysterious atmosphere. In 1679, Dalailama chose this place by divination, and it went on to become the uppermost public place in Yunan which features the particular local characteristics. Annually, the Gedong Festival is celebrated here by the Tibetans. Pious believers, with their knees and foreheads knocking the ground at every step, come here to pray.
The monastery is situated in the high altitude region over 3,300 meters (about 10,827 feet) high. It snows even in August, and has a rainy season that runs from June through September. Therefore, spring and summer are the best seasons for people to visit it.
Bus route: There are autobuses in Zhongdian County which can take you to this beautiful scenic spot directly, and the buses No.3 can also take you there without stop.