Lhasa to Sera Monastery & Pawangka Hermitage
Founded in 1419, Sera Monastery is located 55km north of Lhasa. Sera is still one the great Gelugpa institutions in Tibet. About 600 monks are currently in residence, down from a historical population of 5,000. The half-dozen colleges feature spectacular prayer halls and chapels. There is an inspiring, hour-long circumambulation path that is relatively easy to complete.
A little further northwest lies Pawangka Hermitage. Built in the 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo, and possibly pre-dating the Jokhang and Ramoche, Pawangka lies on top of an immense, flat-topped boulder. It is one of the most ancient Buddhist power sites in the Lhasa area. The foundation is all that survived the Cultural Revolution. Restoration has been in progress since 1986. The hike around Pawangka takes one day.