Drepung Monastery is another of the six great Gelukpa monasteries of Tibet. It is located 5km west of Lhasa in the traditional Tibetan province of U. It was founded by Jamyang Chojey in 1416. Jamyang Chojey was a disciple of Tsongkhapa, who was the founder of the Gelukpa sect of Tibetan buddhism. The monastery quickly became popular and had a monk population of nearly 2000 within the first two years of its founding.
The first Dalai Lama, Gedun Drup, studied at Drepung monastery under Tsongkhapa. Gedun Drup later went on to found Tashilhunpo monastery in Shigatse. The second through the fifth Dalai Lama's each lived at Drepung and were the thrown holders of the monastery. The tombs of the second to fourth Dalai Lama's are found at Drepung. Starting from the fifth Dalai Lama, the home of Tibet's spiritual leader was moved to the Potala Palace.
Drepung was once the largest monastery in the world with a monk population of over 10,000. After the Chinese takeover of Tibet in the 1950's, the monk population fell to only a few hundred. During the Cultural Revolution it was closed, but was later reopened in the early 1980's. Today the monk population of Drepung is around 600.
Drepung has been one of the most politically influential monasteries in Tibet throughout its existence. Many of Tibet's most renowned leaders have studied there. Even in more recent times it continues to be influential. In the late 1980's, many monks from Drepung protested against the government by raising the Tibetan flag and marching around the Barkhor. The monks involved were later arrested.
During certain times of year (such as Losar), many pilgrims come to Drepung to walk the kora around the monastery. The kora goes around all of the major colleges and assembly halls and continues down to Nechung Monastery, which was home to the state oracle.
Getting to Drepung monastery from Lhasa is easy. Any taxi will take you there for around Y10 ($1.25) one way. There are also public buses going there all day from Jokhang Temple for Y3 ($0.36) per person. For more information on Lhasa and Drepung Monastery, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org