An eventful day’s journey with changed travel plans, arrival in Dêgê and we spent the next morning in the Dêgê Gompa.
Dêgê Gompa or Gonchen Monastery is one of the most remarkable monasteries we have seen and deserves special mention, hence I chose to devote a blog to it.
The Gonchen Monastery is quite enormous and has been there for more than 5 centuries.
Devout Tibetan Buddhists at the Derge Monastery
The main hall of the monastery is vast , while the inner sanctums house Padmasambhava, Sakyamuni Buddha and Maitreya – the future Buddha.
The outer walls are dark red unique to the Sakya sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
We were awed by the spirituality and devotion of the Tibetans young or old circumambulating the gompa continuously .
Bakong Scripture Printing Press
Dêgê Parkhang or Bakong Scripture Printing Press is another star attraction. Built in 1729, it has been in action since the founding of the monastery almost in the same environment as we see today. The monks still use the old techniques of the wooden blocks with no electricity.
The monks work in pairs and very eager to be photographed. We had left our cameras behind as instructed, but they asked us to click them with our phones.
One of them spoke some English ; he said they print the Buddhist sutras – Kangyur and Tengyur in the monastery. Kevin also mentioned that there are some ancient writings on astronomy, geography, music, medicine and other important Tibetan sutras.
While some carve new wooden printing blocks; the other monks print them on both cloth and paper. We saw the roof used for drying the printed sheets; Kevin told us that about 2,500 pages are hand-produced daily.
There are close to 300,000 printing blocks housed in the monastery and is probably the largest of the printing presses. The guardian goddess Drölma or Tara protects the Derge Sutra monastery from fire and earthquakes.