Tibet - the hidden Library in Sakya Monastery

Sakya Kloster in Tibet
Tibet - the hidden Library in Sakya Monastery

China, Tibet. It's dark and cold. Only our mobile phone lamps illuminate the long, narrow corridor behind the large Sutrahalle. But in the light of our mobile phones we see thousands of books. They pile up to the ceiling. In my next article I'll tell you about the hidden library in Sakya Monastery. You'll also learn what other special features you can discover in Sakya Monastery.

Non-solicited, unpaid advertising. This article contains affiliate links*, marked with an asterisk.

Two monks in the inner courtyard of the monastery

The Sakya Monastery

The Sakya Monastery is the headquarters of the Sakyapa sect. It is also one of the largest schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery was founded in 1073 during the 13th century was also Tibet's cultural and political center.

Sakya Kloster in Tibet
Prayer drums at the entrance to Sakya Monastery in Tibet

The river Drum divides the monastery into a northern area and a southern area which is about 200 years younger. Both areas were severely damaged during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The northern monastery was almost completely destroyed. For this reason you can only visit the South Monastery at the moment.

The Mongolian architecture distinguishes the South Monastery from other monasteries you can see in Tibet. For example, it has a double defense wall, loopholes and corner towers. Also noteworthy is the two-storey Sutra Hall. With its inner courtyard it is also the largest such hall in Tibet. It can accommodate up to 7,000 people.

Innenhof vom Sakya Kloster
The courtyard of Sakya Monastery

The hidden Library

Hidden behind a wall of the Sutrahalle is a cold, dark and yet extremely remarkable room. It is about 60 meters long and 10 meters high. On wooden shelves three metres deep, this room houses around 84,000 hand-written books. The oldest of these are over 1000 years old. All the books in the library survived the Cultural Revolution unscathed, as the entrance was sealed and untouched for several hundred years. At present, the texts written in Tibetan, Mongolian and Sanskrit are still being written by scientists.  

The books are only partly wrapped in silk scarves. The cold climate alone, at an altitude of 4280 m, protects the books from decay. But a very special book is kept in a glass showcase: it contains the teachings of the Buddha as well as records of his life. The book has impressive dimensions: two metres long, one metre wide and eighty centimetres thick. Its pages must therefore be turned with eight people. Eight people are also needed to carry it. It is about 700 years old. All its pages are written by hand in golden script.

To visit the library, however, you need an extra ticket. Photography was not possible here.

Unfortunately, photography is no longer allowed behind the doors and curtains.

Long tested and much loved: my three companions on photo tours: the lightweight carbon tripod CT-5C I from Rollei*, the cleaning kit from Rollei*and my indestructible camera backpack, the camera backpack, the Flipside from Lowepro*.

The White Shell of Sakya Monastery

The Sakya Monastery contains important Buddha statues and paintings. It also houses many religious cult objects. The most sacred of these is the White Shell. For a small donation a monk blows into the shell and makes a mystical sound. As soon as the sound is heard, the person who made the donation can make a wish for himself or someone else.

The Hell Room at Sakya Monastery

A steep and long staircase leads to the upper part of the Sutra Hall of Sakya Monastery. A small room attracts special attention here. For wild figures, as murals or statues, can be found all over the unlit room. Even on the wooden columns supporting the roof beams, figures are painted on. It is the hell space. Here the demons of the underworld are tamed.

Sakya Kloster in Tibet
Protector figure at the entrance of Sakya Monastery in Tibet

Book Recommendations for Tibet

You want to know where the journey goes? Then I can recommend these books* about Tibet.

You can order these books at Amazon with a click on the pictures. If you buy a product via one of these affiliate links, I get a small commission and you help me to keep filling Fernweh-Motive with interesting articles. The product will not be more expensive for you.

Have you ever been to Sakya Monastery yourself, maybe even to the hidden library? How did you like it? Do you have any questions about my article or suggestions? If so, please write me a comment!

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Recommendations for further Reading


  1. Was für einen Inhalt haben die Bücher? Irgendwie historisch relevant oder neu? Sind Übersetzungen antiker Texte dabei?

  2. Sehr interessant, bekommen Sie Informationen wenn die Bücher ausgewertet sind ,dann bitte gleich veröffentlichen, Danke


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