labrang monastery is one of the six great monasteries of the Geluk (Yellow Hat) school of Tibetan Buddhism. Labrang is located in Xiahe County in Gansu province, and also considered to be in the traditional Tibetan area of Amdo. Labrang Monastery is home to the largest number of monks outside of Tibet Autonomous Region. Xiahe is located about 4 hours from the city of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu.
Labrang Monastery is located in the town of Xiahe, which belongs to the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The town is reflection of the different ethnic groups that can be found in China, such as Tibetans (about 70% of the population), Hui Chinese (20%) and Han Chinese (10%).
The monastery complex dominates the northern part of the village. The white walls and golden roofs feature a blend of Tibetan and Han architectural styles. The monastery contains 18 halls, six institutes of learning, a golden stupa, a sutra debate area, and houses nearly 60,000 sutras. There once were more than 2,000 monks in residence, but now only 500, due to a twelve year closure starting in 1958. It has a Buddhist museum with a large collection of Buddha statues, sutras and murals. In addition, a large amount of Tibetan language books, including books on history is available for purchase, together with medicines, calendars, music and art objects.
There used to be a great golden statue of the Buddha, more than 50 feet high, which was surrounded by rows of surrounding Buddhas in niches.
The monastery today is an important place for Buddhist ceremonies and activities. From 4 to 17 January and 26 June to 15 July (these dates may change according to the lunar calendar), the great Buddhist ceremony will be held with Buddha-unfolding, sutra enchanting, praying, sutra debates, etc.
Accommodation is easy to find and a great variety of articles and souvenirs are available. Although the region is mostly rural and pastoral (including yak and other animal rearing), tourism is growing rapidly mainly due to the monastery.