The sera Monastery became the permanent residence for over 5,000 monks and 5 monastic colleges when it was established in 1419. Today the monastery operates at a mere fraction of the size, housing only a few hundred monks. Visitors can observe the monks in residence debating scripture in the courtyard during the afternoons following their scripture classes.
The monastic compound consists of a Great Hall, or tsokchen, three colleges for specialized studies, or tratsangs, and 30 residential compounds including chapels for monks traveling from different areas of Tibet to study at the monastery.
The administrative center, or tsokchen, is the largest structure on the site and houses a statue of Sakya Yeshe, the monastery’s founder, as well as statues of the 5th and 13th Dali Lamas. Build in 1710, the structure consists of 4 floors of chapels honoring various Buddhist gods and residences.
The colleges on the site include Sera Me Tratsang, which specializes in teaching the fundamental precepts of Buddhism to young novices, Ngagpa Tratsang, which serves as the monastery’s Tantric college, and Sera Je Tratsang, the largest of the three colleges, which is responsible for the instruction of itinerant monks studying here.