Labrang Monastery is another of the great six Gelukpa sect monasteries of Tibet. It is located in Xiahe county, Gannan Tibet Autonomous Prefecture in southwestern Gansu province. This area is located in the traditional Tibetan region of Amdo. Labrang Monastery was founded in 1709 by Ngawang Tsondru. It was the last of the great six Gelukpa monasteries to be built.
Labrang Monastery is located at an elevation of 2900m / 9512 feet on the far eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The town of Xiahe sits in a valley along the Daxia River (known as the Sang Chu in Tibetan). Mountains and evergreen forests surround the monastery region. The Sanke Grasslands are found west of Labrang where nomads can be found living in traditional style tents. Herds of yaks and sheep roam the area. The town of Xiahe has a mixed population of Tibetans, Chinese and Hui (a Muslim minority group found in western China). The monastery is located in the Tibetan district of town.
Most of the monks at Labrang Monastery are Tibetan, though some are Mongolian and Han (ethnic Chinese). In the 1950's, Labrang had over 4000 monks, but today the number is around 1800. It is the largest monastery in the eastern Amdo region. Large portions of the monastery were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. The monastery was rebuilt in the late 1970's and reopened to the public in 1980.
Today, Labrang Monastery is a popular tourist destination for both foreign and Chinese tourists. The summer months are quite busy. Because of the amazing setting of the area, it is easy to see why the area sees so many travelers. There are many good restaurants in town that serve Tibetan, Western and Chinese food. Nearly all of the restaurants catering to foreigners will have English menus. There are plenty of good hotel and guesthouse options in town. Most of the guesthouses also offer 1 and 2 day tours of the region outside of Labrang. There are multiple buses per day covering the 250kms from Lanzhou to Xiahe. There is also one daily bus to Xiahe from Xining and Rebkong.
If you have any questions about Xiahe or Labrang Monastery or about any other region of Tibet, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org