Larung Gar in China’s Sichuan province is a spiritual oasis for Buddhist practitioners from all over the world and an exciting tourist destination for travelers keen on exploring Tibetan culture. This densely populated Chinese town is home to Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, the largest Tibetan Buddhist institution in the world.
The religious establishment of Larung Gar was founded by Dudjom Lingpa in 1880 and was rebuilt 100 years later by Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok. According to local Buddhist practitioners, the monastery aims to “unite Buddhists in harmony, uphold pure precepts, and study and reflect upon and practice the sacred Dharma; finally, to propagate the Dharma and benefit all beings.”
The landscape of Larung Gar is quite impressive as there are thousands of tiny red dwellings sprawling the hills around the main prayer halls. Until recently, this embattled mountain hermitage in eastern Tibet used to house about 40,000 people including monks, nuns, and visiting students. However, in 2016, the Chinese government ordered sweeping demolitions to reduce its population to 3,500 nuns and 1,500 monks only.
The Buddhist Academy is divided into two different sections, the monastery, and the nunnery. It also includes two golden-roofed buildings hosting classes that focus on various topics such as Tibetan medicine, debate, and language.