Cheltenham Racecourse

Tibetan Monks of The Tashi Lhunpo Monestary

Garden Stage, Sunday 2023

Tibetan Monks of The Tashi Lhunpo Monestary

Founded in Shigatse, Central Tibet, by the First Dalai Lama in 1447, Tashi Lhunpo is the seat of the Panchen Lamas. It is one of the four great monasteries of the Gelugpa (or Yellow Hat) tradition, and is renowned for its scholarship in Mahayana Buddhist philosophy and the Tantric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959 and the Cultural Revolution from 1966–80 wreaked destruction on the great monastic institutions, including Tashi Lhunpo, which lost many of its precious scriptures, statues and images. Of the 6,000 monks in the monastery, only a few were able to follow the Dalai Lama into exile. Twenty senior monks undertook the perilous trek across the Himalayas to India, and in the early 1970s, under the patronage of the present Dalai Lama, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was re-established near Mysore in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

Fifty years on, occupying a central position in the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe, the monastery is now home to over 400 monks, and has once again regained its reputation as an important centre for learning and for the preservation of the culture and traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

In 2003 the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust was established to support the monastery and to organise a series of regular tours aimed at bringing their unique monastic culture to the West, thereby ensuring its survival.

Monks from Tashi Lhunpo have toured extensively, playing to capacity audiences in theatres, arts centres and at festivals worldwide. Highlights include Glastonbury Festival, the Manchester Arena (2012), The Deloitte Ignite Festival in The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Edinburgh Festival Fringe.