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. 

Four major schools of Buddhism in Tibet

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. Kadam School was founded by Je Atisha in the 11th century. Gelugpa School was founded in the 15th century by Je Tsongkhapa.

Many Maha Siddha were from Geluk school including Je Tsongkhapa, Je Gyaltsab Dharma Rinchen, and Je Khedrup Gelek Pelzang.

They are two overland ways to get to Sakya 

1. Travel from Lhasa 

2. Travel from the Nepal border 

Sightseeings located near Sakya town

1. Hot spring from Sakya

The small local hot spring is located around 20 km from Sakya town. This hot spring is popular with locals from Sakya town. 

2. 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.

I respect this beautiful Yogi culture in Tibet. These great Yogis are the highest but they claim to be the lowest. Travelers can also read an article on how to be a Buddhist Vajrayana Yogi for beginners.

3. Mount Everest summit viewpoint

For travelers who have a short time but still want to see the summit of Mount Everest, we recommend traveling to the Sakya town summit viewpoint of Mount Everest. 

Mount Everest and Mount Cho Oyu view from Tingri 

Hotels and Restaurants in Sakya Town

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.

From Sakya town, they are two routes to Tingri town. 

1. The normal route from Lhatse town and Gyatso La Pass 5, 200 meters ( 17, 060 ft )

2. Another route will be from Drangso County, they are almost no Travelers on this route. We highly recommend this route to Travelers who love hidden routes in Tibet.

Hidden beauties near Sakya

1. Chorten Nyima and Glacier

One of the important retreat areas of Maha Siddha Padmasambhava during the 8th century was Chorten Nyima ( Sun Stupa )  I have been here more than 15 years ago. There is a beautiful hike to the glacier, there is also holy water for the purification of karmic debts.

Sightseeing near Sakya town

Sakya is one of the towns in Tibet, which is located in the center of Shigatse Prefecture so many important travel sights are located near Sakya town. 

1. Mount Everest

There is 240 km from Sakya to Mount Everest base camp. We recommend including Sakya in the itinerary while 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.


Sakya is a very important spiritual and historical town in Tibet. Many great Tibetan masters were from Sakya school including one of my favorite Maha Siddha Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen. 

Sakya monastery is rich in spirituality, the statues in the monastery are much different than other schools of Buddhism in Tibet. The huge-sized 84000 teachings of Buddha are one of the most specialties of Sakya monastery. 

Sakya is special with the color of the walls of the Monastery and houses painted grey, white, and red symbolizing the Lord of three families. White symbolizes compassion for Buddha Chenresig. Red symbolizes wisdom Buddha Jamphelyang. Grey symbolizes the power of Buddha Chakna Dorje. 

Sakya is also one of the towns where Travelers can witness the authentic life of Tibetans. The retreat area and old monastery located on the north of the hill are great options for a hike from the center of town.

Travelers can send us Emails regarding traveling to the Sakya monastery. 

Written By :Tenzin

Mar 24, 2018


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