The Gyanak Mani temple has the largest collection of hand carved prayer (mani) stones in Tibet. There are at least 2 billion prayer stones neatly stacked 3 meters high over a 1 square kilometer area. There is a row of 8 chortens on the far side of the temple with prayer flags covering the area. There are several stories about the origins of the Gyanak Mani temple. According to many local people, the temple was founded by a lama from nearby Chamdo. The lama went on a retreat to China in the late 18th century and passed through the area on his return. He built a house there and lived in seclusion for many years. On day after meditating, it is said that he had a revelation that a temple needed to be built where he had been living in seclusion. Supposedly two naturally occurring prayer stones were found at the site where the temple was to be built. The lama considered this to be an auspicious sign and designated the area specifically for prayer stones. The local people then began carving these prayer stones, which they continue to do to this day.
The Gyanak Mani Temple is located 5kms from Jyekundo in the Kham region of Tibet located in southern Qinghai province. It is a major pilgrimage destination with thousands of people visiting the temple each day. During festival times, many tens of thousands of Tibetans can be found walking around the carved prayer stones. It is considered to be one of the holiest sites in all of Kham.
There is no entrance fee to visit the Gyanak Mani. From Jyekundo, you can take a taxi for Y10 or the public bus for Y1 per person to the temple. Try and go in the early morning to see the most pilgrims. There are several small stores and restaurants across from the temple in case you want to spend the day there. There are no hotels allowing foreigners at the temple.
For more information about the Gyanak Mani temple or other regions of Tibet, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to contact me regarding which travel agency to use when going to Tibet.