There were lots of remains and legends in the monastery. We are going to introduce them in order. Click on the picture for a larger view along with brief illustrations.(The pictures were all taken in October 2005)
A video of the front part of the monastery 1.8mb

The full name of Palpung monastery is "Palpung Thubten Choekhor Ling ~ The Holy Dharma Seat"; it is located at Drida zalmogang of Derge County in Kham, where it is 3,900 meters above sea level.

Guru Rinpoche once blessed a total of twenty-five sacred places in Do-Kham area and Palpung was one of these wonderful sites. It was referred to as Deva Koti Tsanda Rinchin Drak. Jetsun Marpa also prophesied about the special qualities of this place and said that it would be the source of much dharma where the Kagyu doctrine would flourish. Palpung literally means an auspicious land abundant in wealth and elites. With beautiful mountains rounded, a tale regarding the surroundings of Palpung said that it resembled "three elephants playing the water" to describe Palpung's special landscape.

In 1727, the Eighth Kenting Tai Situpa Chokyi Jungne, at his twenty-eight, started to build Palpung monastery under great supports from the ruler of Derge. The whole monastery was completed in two years including a shrine hall and 25 dormitories for the monks. It goes without saying that the Eighth Kenting Tai Situpa and his incarnations followed then became the root guru of the followed rulers of Derge.

The Ninth Kenting Tai Situpa Pema Nyinje Wangpo and his disciple, the first Great Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche founded the upper and the lower retreat centres for Palpung monastery. These were the first 3-year retreat centres in the history of Tibet. The famous upper retreat centre is where The Six Doctrines of Niguma and the lower retreat centre, is where The Six Yogas of Naropa are taught. Palpung monastery then began to carry on the lineages of Marpa and Shangpa Kagyu.

In 1927 the Eleventh Kenting Tai Situpa Pema Wangchok Gyalpo extended Palpung monastery by enlarging its main hall, renovating the lower retreat center, and establishing a shedra and a sutra-printing house. The second Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche added an annex to the upper retreat center and built an additional sutra hall. By the year 1959, there were at least one hundred and eight branch monasteries of Palpung and many other assets such as tea gardens, farmlands, salt pans, livestock and pastureland.

Around 1981, the governor of Sichuan authorized the preservation of some Tibetan Buddhist temples. Palpung was one of these. In 1983, reconstruction of the lower retreat center was undertaken. In 1984 Yeshe Jungne, the retreat master, led a three year and three month retreat with nineteen lamas for the very first time after decades of instability. In 1987 the upper retreat center was completed.

At 3950 meters above sea level, the main monastery of Palpung is an extraordinary structure with a main hall as tall as forty meters. It has been said that it is the second largest standing traditional Tibetan building, and is known locally as the "Little Potala Palace". The building combines characteristics from the local inhabitants, and displays a variety of local paintings and sculptures. For centuries Palpung has cultivated the work of many renowned Buddhist masters preserving many historical, scientific and art collections.

Buildings in Palpung remain under re-construction at a slow pace due to limited funding. Because of the uniqueness in its architecture and preserved collections, Palpung monastery has been classified among the world's one hundred historic monuments in urgent need to be restored by the World Monuments Fund. At present, there are about two hundred students in the Palpung monastic college and forty to fifty monks in retreat. There are also monks totally about 300 performing rituals and others residing in the scattered neighborhoods.