Chiu Monastery: A Sacred Oasis by Manasarovar Lake in Tibet
Chiu Monastery, also known as Jiu Monastery or Sparrow Monastery, is a hidden gem nestled 33 km from Darchen on the western shore of the breathtaking Manasarovar Lake. Standing proudly on the steep, red-colored Sangtok Pelri Mountain at an altitude of 4,590 meters, Chiu Monastery is not only a place of religious significance but also a testament to the rich history and culture of Tibet.
School of Buddhism: Chiu Monastery follows the Nyingmapa tradition, also known as the Red Hat sect, one of the oldest schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
Location: Situated on the Westside shore of Manasarovar Lake, the monastery offers panoramic views of the lake, the Gurla Mandhata Peak, and, on clear days, the majestic Mount Kailash.
Altitude: The monastery stands at an impressive altitude of 4,590 meters, providing a unique spiritual experience for pilgrims and visitors alike.
Other Names: Chiu Monastery is also referred to as Jiu Monastery, Sparrow Monastery, or Chiu Gompa, showcasing the linguistic and cultural diversity of the region.
About Chiu Monastery:
Chiu Monastery, though not large, boasts architecture reminiscent of the iconic Potala Palace. Pilgrims often choose to stay in guesthouses along the Manasarovar Lake shore, with Chiu Monastery as a spiritual focal point during their pilgrimage. The monastery holds a special place in the hearts of those on Mount Kailash group tours, offering a serene retreat by the sacred lake.
History of Chiu:
The monastery has deep historical roots, with ties to Guru Rinpoche (Padma Sambhava). In the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche meditated in a cave within the monastery, spending the last seven days of his life in deep contemplation. Today, visitors can see his footprint on the rock and statues commemorating his profound presence within the monastery.
Around the Monastery:
A short walk up the hill takes visitors to Chiu Monastery, where a 30-minute kora around the premises provides a tranquil experience. The nearby Ganga Chu River, flowing from Manasarovar Lake to Rakshas Tal Lake, serves as the source of the Sutlej River. Pilgrims also find solace in the hot spring located behind the monastery, despite basic facilities.
Chiu Monastery is a pilgrimage destination often visited by those staying at Manasarovar Lake, known as Mapam Yumtso in Tibetan. The lake, fed by glaciers from the Mount Kailash region, holds deep religious significance for Bon, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. Pilgrims are treated to the sight of numerous birds nesting along the lake shore, adding to the sacred ambiance.
Chiu Monastery stands as a spiritual beacon, intertwined with the natural beauty and religious significance of the Tibetan plateau. Pilgrims and travelers alike embark on a journey to this ancient monastery, not only to witness its architectural marvel but to connect with the profound spiritual energy that permeates the sacred grounds surrounding Manasarovar Lake.