Different Faiths in Langmusi
Two Gelugpa monasteries are located in the unique town of Lhamo (ལྷ་མོ།). The provincial border runs through the center splitting the town between both Gansu Province and Sichuan Province. Here, Islamic and Buddhist faiths live quietly together in this monastic village. There are two Tibetan Buddhist monasteries located in town as well as an Islamic Mosque, offering visitors a look into both religions and cultures. Not only are the two Langmusi monasteries located far apart in town, but each is located in a different province. Some speculate that the reason for the border running through the middle of town had to do with years of power struggles between Kirti Monastery (ཀིརྟི་དགོན་པ།) and Sertri Monastery (གསེར་ཁྲི་དགོན་པ།).
One of the 2 Langmusi Monasteries known as the Kirti Monastery
Meaning Behind the Name
The Tibetan Buddhist monasteries as a whole are called Dacang Lamu Gerdeng Monastery, and they have an interesting history to the naming. Dacang means “tigers’ den” and, as the stories go, there was a large pit near where the Monastery now sits, where many tigers lived. The word Langmu translates to “fairy maiden,” due to the shape of the stones in the nearby caves, which appeared to be in the form of the female body, making the literal translation of Dacang Lamu, “a fairy maiden in the tigers’ den.”
Monks enter the meeting hall at Kirti Monastery in Langmusi
The two monasteries are both historically significant and are held in high regard among Tibetans. Kirti Monastery however, is much larger and more impressive of the two. Kirti sits on the Sichuan side of town and is home to almost a 700 monks. The first of its temples was built in 1713 by a lineage of Kirti incarnated Lama named Tala. By 1748, three temples had been built in total and the area was expanded into a much larger compound. Behind Kirti Monastery there are many caves for which the monasteries were named, as well as access to the Namo Gorge, the source of the Bailong River. In one of these caves, you can visit the statue of the Tibetan Goddess, Palden Lhamo.
The Sertri Monastery or as some call it, the Gansu Monastery, is located in the Gansu Province on the other side of the river, on the northern hill. This monastery dates back to 1748 and is one of the few locations of Tibetan Sky Burials, although these ceremonies are held in private. Sertri Monastery is also home to nearly 350 monks, making it the smaller of the two monasteries. Despite its smaller size and, to some, less impressive reputation, many Tibetan pilgrims starting their Kora begin at Sertri before taking off on their journey.