Ganden Sumtseling Monastery

The Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, also known as Sungtseling and Guihuasi(Chinese: 松赞林寺 Sōngzànlín Sì), is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery situated 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the city of Zhongdian at elevation 3,380 metres (11,090 ft) in Yunnan province, China. Built in 1679, the monastery is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan province and is sometimes referred to as the Little Potala Palace. Located in the capital of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, it is also the most important monastery in southwest China.

It belongs to the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelukpa order of the Dalai Lama. The Fifth Dalai Lama‘s Buddhist visionary zeal established the monastery in Zhongdian, in 1679. Its architecture is a fusion of the Tibetan and Han Chinese. It was extensively damaged in the Cultural Revolution and subsequently rebuilt in 1983; at its peak, the monastery contained accommodation for 2000 monks; it currently accommodates in its rebuilt structures 700 monks in 200 associated houses. source :

I went to Yunnan early this month. The first stop was Shangri-La and probably the most famous site there is the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery. It would be easy to understand this place would be always full of tourists, and especially so during the time I was there as it was the golden week holidays for the Chinese National Day. The following photo illustrates this fact quite well.

For an average tourist, it would be almost impossible to find a time to go when there are little or no people there. However, with some techniques an patience, it is possible to capture photos that showed the tranquility of the place with little of no people showing in the photos. I think I can use the photos in this post to demonstrate this.

You can see from the photos above that there are a few ways of avoiding the crowd. The easiest way is to use a telephoto lens and just focus on certain part of the scene. The second way is to shoot upwards, it’s a effective way especially if the weather is good and there was an attractive blue sky with white clouds. The third way is to be patient and wait for a gap when there are little or no people in the scene, but you will have to be ready and quick in taking the shot as this gap may only last a second or 2.

All photos were shot in RAW with Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM and Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM. The RAW files were converted with Capture One Pro and further processed with Photoshop CS5 before outputting to the web. You can see the full set of photos here.


2 thoughts on “Ganden Sumtseling Monastery

  1. Very nice pics of Yunnan Roland, have not been that side and dont think I will but one never knows as I love China.We will be in Beijing in a week and a halfs time then to Nigbo, pick up J.J. then on to Shanghai and Yellow Mountain.Thanks for sharing

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