Samye Monastery is built on the site of the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet. The original monastery was established by Padmasambhava – one of the great leaders of early Buddhism – in the eighth century.
Although a number of Buddhist temples predated the monastery, Buddhism was still resisted by the aristocratic Bonpo families. In response, King Trisong Detsen invited Padmasambhava to Tibet to subdue hostile elemental forces. At Samye, he crushed the local demons and consecrated the site for Tibet's first monastery.
The monastery suffered considerable damage during the Cultural Revolution, but restorations are underway. To reach Samye, we had to cross a river in a wooden boat, then ride for about six dusty miles in the back of a truck. But, it was worth the effort!