Thrangu Monastery

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Thrangu Monastery
Tibetan transcription(s)
Tibetan: གཡེར་པ
Chinese transcription(s)
Traditional: 創古寺
Simplified: 创古寺
Pinyin: Chuànggǔ Sì
Affiliation Tibetan Buddhism
Sect Kargyu
Leadership Thrangu Rinpoche
Location Yushu Prefecture, Qinghai, China
China Qinghai location map.svg
Gold temple icon.png
Location within Qinghai province
Geographic coordinates 32°57′30″N97°01′0″E / 32.95833°N 97.01667°E / 32.95833; 97.01667 Coordinates: 32°57′30″N97°01′0″E / 32.95833°N 97.01667°E / 32.95833; 97.01667
Founderthe Seventh Karmapa

Thrangu (or Trangu) Monastery is located about 7 km south of Jyekundo in the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai province, China, or the traditional Tibetan cultural region of Kham.

Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Autonomous prefecture in Qinghai, Peoples Republic of China

Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, also transliterated as Yüxü or Yulshul, is an autonomous prefecture of southwestern Qinghai province, China. Largely inhabited by Tibetans, the prefecture has an area of 188,794 square kilometres (72,894 sq mi) and its seat is located in the town of Gyêgu in Yushu County, which is the place of the old Tibetan trade mart of Jyekundo. The official source of the Yellow River lies within the prefecture. Historically, the area belongs to the cultural realm of Kham in eastern Tibet.

Qinghai Province

Qinghai is a landlocked province in Northwestern China. As one of the largest province-level administrative divisions of China by area, the province is ranked fourth-largest in area and has the third-smallest population. Its capital and largest city is Xining.

Kham former Tibet area

Kham is a historical region of Tibet covering a land area largely divided between present-day Tibet Autonomous Region and Sichuan, with smaller portions located within Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces of China. During the Republic of China's rule over mainland China (1911–1949), most of the region was administratively part of Hsikang. It held the status of "special administrative district" until 1939, when it became an official Chinese province. Its provincial status was nominal and without much cohesion, like most of China's territory during the time of Japanese invasion and civil war. The natives of the Kham region are called Khampas.



Prior to the huge earthquake on 16 April 2010 (see next section), the monastery, which was magnificently located on grasslands backed by a huge wall of granite, [1] consisted of two buildings about 70 metres apart, known as the upper and lower monasteries. The monastery was approached from the road past a row of eight stupas.

Earthquake Shaking of the surface of the earth caused by a sudden release of energy in the crust

An earthquake is the shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth's lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in size from those that are so weak that they cannot be felt to those violent enough to toss people around and destroy whole cities. The seismicity, or seismic activity, of an area is the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time. The word tremor is also used for non-earthquake seismic rumbling.

The "lower monastery" had a renovated assembly hall with 80 pillars, gilded images of the 'Buddhas of the Three Times', and murals showing the previous 16 Karmapa Lamas. There were also images of Milarepa, a four-armed Avalokiteshvara, Padmasambhava and Shakyamuni seated on a throne.

Karmapa title in Tibetan Buddhism

The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Kagyu, itself one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Lama title for a teacher of the Dharma in Tibetan Buddhism

Lama is a title for a teacher of the Dharma in Tibetan Buddhism. The name is similar to the Sanskrit term guru and in use it is similar, but not identical to the western monastic rank of abbot.

Milarepa Tibetan yogi

Jetsun Milarepa was a Tibetan siddha, who famously was a murderer as a young man then turned to Buddhism to become an accomplished buddha despite his past. He is generally considered as one of Tibet's most famous yogis and poets, serving as an example for the Buddhist life. He was a student of Marpa Lotsawa, and a major figure in the history of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.

The "upper monastery", completely destroyed in the 2010 earthquake, had been restored in 1998, and had an image of Shakyamuni Buddha, flanked by the 'Thousand Buddhas' and an image of Vajradhara. The fine Repkong-style murals depicted the 'Twelve Deeds of Shakyamuni'. The outlying buildings were used by people from the neighbouring village to store grain. [2]

Vajradhara primordial Buddha

Vajradhara Tibetan: རྡོ་རྗེ་འཆང། rdo rje 'chang ; Chinese: 金剛總持; Javanese: Kabajradharan; Japanese: 執金剛; English: Diamond-holder; Vietnamese: Kim Cang Tổng Trì) is the ultimate primordial Buddha, or Adi Buddha, according to the Sakya, Gelug and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

About 10 km northwest up a side road one comes to the rock inscriptions in both Tibetan and Chinese at Bida, some of which are claimed to have been naturally produced, linking the region with the Chinese Princess Wencheng who is said to have stayed here for one month on her way to marry king Songtsen Gampo, circa 640 CE, in Lhasa. There is a large engraved image of Princess Wencheng on a cliff behind the monastery. The Tibetan name for the site is Nampar Nangdze Lhakang. [3] There is a temple here which was previously under the care of the Drigung Kagyu school but, more recently had been looked after by the monks from Thrangu. [4]

Princess Wencheng Chinese princess, Tibetan empress

Princess Wencheng is an ancient historical figure who holds great significance in China proper and Tibet. According to modern Chinese propaganda, she is responsible for bringing civilization to a previously barbaric Tibet and for establishing a lasting peace and unity between the peoples of China and Tibet. As such, Princess Wencheng, regardless of her true historical significance, is a part of the greater Sinicization phenomenon and has now been transformed into a political tool used to justify the Sinicization of Tibet.

Songtsen Gampo Tibetan emperor

Songtsen Gampo, also Songzan Ganbu(Chinese: 松贊干布 Sōngzàn Gānbù), was the 33rd Tibetan king and founder of the Tibetan Empire, and is traditionally credited with the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet, influenced by his Indian Dynasty - Nepali and Chinese queens, as well as being the unifier of what were previously several Tibetan kingdoms. He is also regarded as responsible for the creation of the Tibetan alphabet and therefore the establishment of Classical Tibetan, the language spoken in his region at the time, as the literary language of Tibet.

2010 Yushu earthquake

Ruins of Thrangu Monastery [2012] Thrangu-ruins1.jpg
Ruins of Thrangu Monastery [2012]

Thrangu Monastery and the surrounding areas, including nearby Jyekundo or Gyêgu town, the regional capital, were severely damaged in the 2010 Yushu earthquake. Many monks and thousands of laypeople died. A report filed on 16 April 2010 stated:

Gyêgu Town in Qinghai, China

Gyêgu Subdistrict, formerly a part of the Gyêgu town is a township-level division in Yushu, Yushu TAP, Qinghai, China. The name Gyêgu is still a common name for the Yushu city proper, which include Gyêgu subdistrict and three other subdistricts evolved from the former Gyêgu town. The four subdistricts altogether forms a modern town which developed from the old Tibetan trade mart called Jyekundo or Gyêgumdo in Tibetan and most Western sources. The town is also referred to as Yushu, synonymous with the prefecture of Yushu and the city of Yushu.

2010 Yushu earthquake earthquake

The 2010 Yushu earthquake struck on April 14 and registered a magnitude of 6.9Mw or 7.1Ms. It had a maximum felt intensity of IX (Violent) on the Mercalli intensity scale. It originated in Yushu, Qinghai, China, at 7:49 am local time. According to the Xinhua News Agency, 2,698 people were confirmed dead, 270 missing and 12,135 injured, 1,434 of them severely. The epicenter was located in Rima village (日玛村/日麻村), Upper Laxiu township (上拉秀乡) of Yushu County, in remote and rugged terrain, near the border of Tibet Autonomous Region, about 30 km from Gyêgu town or Jyekundo, the seat of Yushu County, and about 240 km from Qamdo. The epicenter was in a sparsely populated area on the Tibetan plateau that is regularly hit by earthquakes.

"Khenpo drove to Thrangu monastery yesterday, after I spoke to him on the phone, because he heard that the damage was so severe there. He said that there were a lot of people digging in the ruins there but the monastery is in very bad shape. None of the monks’ housing there is still standing. The Mahakala shrine building collapsed. The main lhakang [Assembly Hall] is still standing but is heavily damaged and will have to be rebuilt. He asked people there how many monks had died and was told that no one knows yet. One monk told him sixty to seventy monks had died and another told him at least thirty. There are also two villages very close to Thrangu monastery and he said that they are completely destroyed without a single house still standing so a lot of people must have died there as well. He said that Aten Rinpoche has two cousins who were killed at Thrangu monastery." [5]

The earthquake struck on April 14, 2010, and registered a magnitude of 6.9Mw [6] [7] (USGS, EMSC) or 7.1Ms [8] [9] (CEA, CENC). It originated in Yushu, Qinghai, China, at 7:49 am local time. [10] [11] According to the Xinhua News Agency, 2,698 people have been confirmed dead, 270 missing, and 12,135 injured of which 1,434 are severely injured. [12] The epicenter was located in Rima village (日玛村/日麻村), Upper Laxiu township (上拉秀乡) of Yushu County, [13] [14] in remote and rugged terrain, near the border of Tibet Autonomous Region. The epicenter is about 30 km from Jyekundo or Gyêgu town, the seat of Yushu County, [15] and about 240 km from Qamdo. [6] The epicenter was in a sparsely populated area on the Tibetan plateau that is regularly hit by earthquakes. [16]

Yushu New Thrangu Gompa

For the monastery's reconstruction a new site a few kilometres further south was chosen. Its location near Mahavairocana Temple, also known by the name "Wencheng Temple", which Thrangu's monks traditionally take care of, is at the entrance of the small gorge to the main valley. The reconstruction work was financially supported by the Chinese government. The new monastery was completed in mid-August 2015.

New Thrangu Monastery opens in Canada

Thrangu Monastery, Canada's first traditional Tibetan Buddhist monastery, was officially opened in Richmond, British Columbia, on 25 July 2010 by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, the worldwide leader of Thrangu Monasteries. [17]

The Assembly Hall of the new monastery contains a four-metre tall gold-plated statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, "filled with precious offerings including scriptures, scrolls and sacred stones and pebbles from 108 different countries, including China, Hong Kong, India, Tibet, Sri Lanka and Canada. The shrine hall can comfortably accommodate up to 500 people." [18]


  1. Mayhew and Kohn (2005), p. 243.
  2. Dorje (2009), p. 616.
  3. Kotan Publishing (2009), p. 217.
  4. Dorje (2009), p. 617.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-18. Retrieved 2010-07-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. 1 2 "Magnitude 6.9 – SOUTHERN QINGHAI, CHINA". 2010-04-14. Archived from the original on 2010-04-17. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  7. "EMSC – European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre". Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  8. About 400 dead, 10,000 injured in 7.1-magnitude quake in China's Qinghai, Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  9. China Earthquake Network Center Archived 2010-04-21 at the Wayback Machine
  10. "Magnitude 6.9 – SOUTHERN QINGHAI, CHINA 2010". USGS. April 14, 2010. Archived from the original on 15 April 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  11. "兰州军区和武警部队官兵投入青海玉树抗震救灾 14 April 2010". Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  12. "China to mourn quake dead, public entertainment to be suspended". Xinhuanet. Xinhua News Agency. 2010-04-20. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
  13. "BBC 中文网 – 兩岸三地 – 青海玉樹地震已造成至少400多人死亡". Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  14. "815 郵政編碼(郵遞區號)查詢 – 郵編庫(繁體)" (in Chinese). 2010-02-26. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  15. "青海玉树地震造成人员伤亡 州府结古镇民房倒塌严重_新闻中心_洛阳网". Archived from the original on 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  16. Michael Bristow (14 April 2010). "China earthquake kills hundreds in Qinghai". BBC World.
  17. "1,036 Buddhas oversee worship at new monastery. It is Canada's first traditional Buddhist monastery.
  18. [ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-07-27. Retrieved 2010-07-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "Canada’s first traditional Tibetan Buddhist monastery opens." By Andrea Woo, Vancouver Sun July 23, 2010.

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