Highlights of Kumbum Monastery
1. Golden Roof Hall (Great Jinwa Temple): Immerse yourself in this beautiful hall decorated with murals depicting scenes from Buddha’s life. Marvel at the silver pagoda of the statue of Tsongkhapa, an important figure in Tibetan Buddhism.
2. Golden Roof Small Hall (Xiao jinwa si): Explore this hall and enter the dream world of taxidermy, which includes stories of big cows, antelopes, bears, monkeys and even white horses. Learn the fascinating stories behind these animals.
3. Great Meditation House (Da xingtang): Find peace in the spacious prayer hall, which is beautifully lit and adorned with tapestries and beautiful paintings.
Take a moment to think and be at peace.
4. Suyou hua tang (Suyou hua tang): Witness the art of Suyou hua tang, a Tibetan art that has flourished for centuries. Enjoy the unique details and beautiful colors of the sculptures, especially during the Lantern Festival, where the best sculptures are showcased.
5. First Two Buildings: Browse these sites for fine art collections, beautiful paintings of large support columns, and fine gold, silver, and copper items. Let the craftsmanship and spirit of these products take you to other times.
6. The Great Hall of the Golden Roof (Da jinwa si): Immerse yourself in the grandeur of this hall, adorned with murals depicting scenes from Buddha’s life. Marvel at the silver stuppa containing a statue of Tsong Khapa, an important figure in Tibetan Buddhism.
7. The Lesser Hall of the Golden Roof (Xiao jinwa si): Step into a world of taxidermy wonders as you explore this hall, featuring well-preserved specimens of bulls, antelopes, bears, monkeys, and even a legendary white horse. Learn the fascinating stories behind these animals.
8. The Great Hall of Meditation (Da xingtang): Find tranquility in this spacious prayer hall, softly lit and adorned with silk tapestries and intricately carved pillars. Experience the peaceful atmosphere as you take a moment for reflection.
9. The Hall of Butter Sculptures (Suyou hua tang): Witness the artistry of yak butter sculptures, a traditional Tibetan art form that has thrived for centuries. Admire the intricate details and vibrant colors of these sculptures, particularly during the Lantern Festival when the most exceptional ones are on display.
10. The First Two Halls: Explore these halls to encounter a collection of majestic statues, intricate carvings on massive supporting poles, and exquisite gold, silver, and copper artifacts. Let the craftsmanship and spirituality of these works transport you to another time.10.
The Best Time to Visit Kumbum Monastery
To get the most out of your visit to Kumbum Monastery, consider the following tips for the best time to visit:
Spring (April-June) : Enjoy the tranquility of the church amidst blooming flowers and lush scenery. Spring is a great time for exploration and reflection. Enjoy the vibrant colors of the church against the backdrop of the beautiful scenery.
Summer (July-August): Visit Kumbum Monastery and feel the beautiful summer breeze. Despite the large number of tourists at the moment, the Abbey’s rich heritage and picturesque surroundings are still attractive.
Enjoy milder temperatures and longer sunshine for longer explorations.
Autumn (September-October): Autumn turns Kumbum Monastery into a beautiful display of leaves and fresh air. Be at peace as you immerse yourself in the spiritual atmosphere of the temple. Beautiful views and less crowds make the fall season great for meditation and introspection.
Summer (November to March): If you’re looking for intimacy and reflection, consider visiting this winter.
Even though the weather is cold, the crowd allows you to connect with the meaning of the church on a deeper level. Witness the serenity of the church amid the snow-covered landscape that creates a sense of peace and tranquility.
Also, plan your visit to coincide with the Lantern Festival, which usually takes place in February. The festival showcases the temple’s best ghee sculptures and gives a pretty face to the Tibetan festival. Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and lively atmosphere of this festive event.
Be sure to check the dates and events happening at Kumbum Monastery at the time you want to visit as it can change from year to year. This will allow you to see special ceremonies or cultural events to enhance your experience.
Getting to Kumbum Monastery
To get to Kumbum Monastery, you can take a minibus from the west gate of Xining City Gymnasium in Dashizi, west of Xining. The bus departs every 30 minutes and costs 5 yuan. To enjoy the view, head to nearby Huangzhong and from there walk about 20 minutes uphill to the main entrance of the temple. The bus from Huangzhong Square to the city stops at 18:00.
Accommodation and Meals
Consider two options for an unforgettable night. The small hotel in the church has a rustic yet cozy atmosphere and allows you to relax in the church. Alternatively, the 2-star Thar Hotel (Tal Guesthouse), No. 57 Yingbin Road, just to the left of the church’s main entrance, offers inexpensive accommodation. The triple room costs about 55 RMB per bed and the double room costs about 180 RMB (required!). Enjoy delicious Muslim cuisine at Pilgrim’s Hostel’s restaurant or explore nearby restaurants in the city.
Note that photography is strictly prohibited inside the church, so be sure to enjoy the experience with your own eyes.