Sakyapa - Sakya Monastery -1 Great travel destination

1. Sakyapa

Sakya is a fantastic town in Tibet that has a lot of spiritual and historical significance. Some of the most incredible Tibetan masters, including my personal favorite, Maha Siddha Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen, were from the Sakya school. When you visit the Sakya monastery, you'll feel a deep sense of spirituality that's different from other schools of Buddhism in Tibet. The statues in the monastery are genuinely unique and special. One of the most incredible things about the Sakya monastery is its significant 84000 Buddha teachings.

Did you know that the schools of Sakyapa have an interesting origin story? It all started in India during the 7th and 8th centuries with a Maha Siddha named Virupa. Legend has it that Virupa once held the sun with his bare finger for a few days until a king paid his bill at a restaurant! How cool is that?



Royalty as a prince of Sakya, but chose to abandon his life of luxury and become a wandering yogi in the mountains of Sakya. Throughout his entire existence, he made a point to never turn his back on his lama as a display of genuine devotion.

2. Journey of a Great Yogi.

Born in 1147, Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen was the fifth great throne holder of Sakyapa. At the age of eight, he became a monk and greatly admired monastic life. He would often encourage other monks to take their vows seriously and would serve them with tea. His father, the great Yogi Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, as well as his brother and master Nyen Phulwa, gave him many precious teachings. When he was ten, Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen took the Bodhisattva Vow and diligently studied the Tantric.

He became a master at the age of eleven and taught the Dharma to many monks. Throughout his life, Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen diligently practiced the Buddha Dharma and was later recognized as an emanation of Jamphelyang wisdom Buddha. Kache Pandita Shakya Shiri praised him as the holder of the significant Tantra and Yidam, Guhyasamaja. Buddhism flourished in Mongolia during the reign of King Genghis Khan due to the kindness of the great Yogi Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen.

To put it briefly, he possessed a very generous nature and did not hold onto anything. His primary focus was on providing spiritual resources for the betterment of all living beings. Even in death, he possessed only one piece of cloth and no other possessions.

Sakya monastery

The Sakya Monastery boasts enormous walls.


3. The teacher of the first Pandit.

One of my preferred masters from the Sakya sect is Je Drakpa Gyaltsen. He was the root Lama of the first Pandit in Tibet, Sakya Pandita. When Sakya Pandita inquired why his spiritual development was not progressing despite practicing everything as advised, Drakpa Gyaltsen replied that since he had taken him as his uncle, the blessings were limited. Later, Sakya Pandita became one of the most knowledgeable Buddhist masters in Tibet.

4. Great Devotion to Root Guru.

He practices Samadhi meditation and writes Dharma teachings on a daily basis. He makes sure to complete tasks assigned by his Lamas to gain their approval. He always maintains respect towards his Lama by never showing his back to them and avoiding any actions that would displease them. In case of any doubts regarding the teachings, he offers Mandalas to the Lama to seek clarity.

In 1216, Drakpa Gyaltsen died in Sakya at the age of 70. Interestingly, he passed away in the exact location where he was born, which sets him apart from his predecessors. Thank you for taking the time to read this brief account of the esteemed Maha Siddha Drakpa Gyaltsen.

As someone with limited knowledge, writing about a figure of such mastery intimidates me. However, I have written this article to gain merit by mentioning this great master's name. If there are any mistakes in my writing, I humbly request forgiveness from the Dakinis. Sakyapa Khenno!

5. Sakya Monastery.

Sa means land and Kya means grey. Sakya town is one of the most important towns in the history of Buddhism in Tibet. Sakya town is located 130 km from Shigatse at an elevation of 4, 400 meters ( 14, 435 ft ) Sakya is famous for the Sakya monastery. Founded in the year 1073 by Je Konchok Gyalpo of the Khon clan. Sakya is one of the major schools of Buddhism in Tibet. 

Sakya Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen

Sakya Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen


6. Four Majoy schools of Buddhism.

1. Nyingmapa 

Nyingma School was founded in the 8th century by 37th King Trisong Deutsen, Maha Siddha Padmasambhava, and Maha Siddha Santaraksita. Many great Tibetan Maha Siddha Yogis were from Nyingma school including Je Kandro Yeshe Tsogyal, Je Longchenpa, Je Jigme Lingpa, and Je Za Patrul.  (Je meaning Lord) 

2. Sakyapa 

Sakya School was founded in the 11th century by Je Khon Konchok Gyalpo. The color of the walls in Sakya is white, red, and grey representing the lord of the three families. The first Pandit in Tibet was from Sakya ( Sakya Pandita ) emanation of Wisdom Buddha Manjushri. Many Maha Siddha were from Sakya school including Je Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, Je Sonam Tsemo, Je Drakpa Gyaltsen, and Je Sakya Pandita. 

3. Kagyupa

Kagyu school was founded in the 11th century by Je Marpa Lotsawa ( The translator Guru )

Many Maha Siddha's were from Kagyu school including Je Marpa Lotsawa, Je Milarepa, Je Rechungpa, Je Gampopa, Je Pakmo Drubpa, Je Ling Repa, Je Tsangpa Gyare, Je Tsang Nyon, Je U Nyon, Je Drukpa Kunley, Je Machik Lapdron, Je Dampa Sangay.

4. Gelugpa 

Gelugpa is the newest school in Buddhism in Tibet.  Gelugpa is also the newer tradition of Kadampa school. Je Atisha founded Kadam Schoo in the 11th century. Gelugpa School was founded in the 15th century by Je Tsongkhapa.

7. How to get to Sakya.

  1. Travel from Lhasa.
  2. Travel from the Nepal border.

8. Hotels and Restaurants in Sakya.

The best hotel in Sakya is the 3-star Sakya Hotel providing a private room with a hot shower. They are a few other local guest houses in the town. Sakya town has many local Tibetan restaurants for local foods.

9. Sightseeings near Sakya.

1. Retreat area of Sakya

Beauties of Sakya is the Yogi culture. Many great masters from the Sakya school were born like a king with wealth but many of these masters including Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen had renounced the samsaric deeds and engaged in retreat for many years.

Mount Everest near Tingri

1. Mount Everest

The highest mountain in the world is Mount Everest. The distance between Sakya and Mount Everest base camp is 240 km. We suggest adding Sakya to the travel plans when visiting Mount Everest.

2. Phuntsokling monastery

One of the important Buddhist schools in Tibet is Jonang. Jonang school can be traced back to the 12th-century Tibetan master Je Jonang Taranata. Shiji school can be traced back to the 11th-century Indian master Je Dampa Sangay and Je Machik Lapdron.

3. Tokmon town hot spring and monastery

Tokmon town is located around 70 - 100 km from Sakya town. They are many small monasteries and a popular local hot spring located in Tokmon town. 

4. Lhatse chode monastery and Shiqen hot spring

Lhatse is located around 40 km from Sakya town. One of the nearest towns to Sakya. Lhatse Choede Monastery and Shiqen hot springs are located about 30 km from Sakya.

10. Conclusion

The Monastery and houses in Sakya are unique due to the use of grey, white, and red colors on their walls, which represent the three families of Lord Buddha. The color white signifies Buddha Chenresig's compassion, while red signifies the wisdom of Buddha Jamphelyang. The color grey represents the power of Buddha Chakna Dorje.

Travelers have the opportunity to experience genuine Tibetan life in Sakya. For more information on Sakya, check on Lonely Planet. If you're planning a trip to the Sakya monastery, feel free to drop us an email at info@tibettravelers.com. We're happy to help with any questions or concerns you may have. Safe travels!


Written By :Tenzin

Feb 08, 2023


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