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Perched on a hill overlooking Shigatse, the 15th century Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of the great Yellow Sect monasteries of Tibet. Adorned with glistening golden roofs, fragranced by thick incense and linked by timeless cobbled alleyways, the monastery is of immense historical importance and now one of the largest functioning centres of Buddhism in the region.

It is the traditional home of the Panchen Lama, the second highest ranking spiritual leader after the Dalai Lama and in its heyday before the Cultural Revolution was home to over 5,000 monks. Most of these fled, whilst hundreds followed the Dalai Lama through the Himalayas to India to establish a new Tashilhunpo across the border. But the monastery survived relatively intact and now hundreds live and study within the whitewashed walls, alongside a magnificent wealth of Buddhist statues, tombs and artwork.

Among the highlights to be seen here are the lavishly decorated stupa-tombs of the fourth to tenth Panchen Lamas and the 26 metre high Future Buddha statue - the largest gilded bronze statue in the world, adorned with precious stones. The monastery also houses some fine and rare examples of Buddhist paintings and murals, which depict Buddhist beliefs and historical aspects of Tibetan society.

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