Drepung Monastery Image CollectionA few miles west of Lhasa, just above the village of Denbak or Dampa, by now just a suburb of the city, lies Drepung (lit. “pile of rice”), which was during the last century the largest monastery in the world. Although this monastery has by now gone through difficult times, it is still an important institution, with majestic buildings in a grandiose site. Lying at the foot of the Dge ’phel Mountain, the highest point in the Lhasa Valley, Drepung offers an impressive sight with its hundreds of large buildings nestled in an impressive mountainous surrounding. It is one of the most important religious institutions in Tibet and hence its study offers a great avenue to penetrate Tibetan civilization, its religion, politics, economy, and culture. For in Drepung, all these aspects of traditional Tibetan life, which are often thought to exist apart, come together.