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Hamdong Regional House Headquarters
(har gdong khang tshan)

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This is the main compound of the largest of all of the regional houses (khang tshan) of Sera (se ra), with monks principally from central Tibet, Amdo (a mdo), and Mongolia. By some estimates, this regional house alone had close to 1000 monks. It held a privileged position in the monastery because, like Samlo Regional House (bsam lo khang tshan), it was considered the Dalai Lama’s regional house (because of His Holiness’s Amdo roots). For example, the regional house head teachers (khang tshan dge rgan) from these two regional houses had a special status (go sa) in the monastic hierarchy. They were allowed to march in processions escorting the Dalai Lama, and they were permitted to wear special hats that were unique emblems of their status.

The main regional house compound sits at the highest point of Sera, and is impressive for its size, its architecture, and its art. The temple was built by Gyurmé Namgyel (’gyur med rnam rgyal, fl. eighteenth century), the son of Polhané Miwang Sönam Topgyel (pho lha nas mi dbang bsod nams stobs rgyal, 1689-1747), the ruler who built the Jé College (grwa tshang byes) assembly hall. There is a story that the father and son competed with each other for the privilege of building the Jé assembly hall. The loser (the son) got to build the Hamdong Regional House (har gdong khang tshan) as the consolation prize.

Many of the monks that belonged to the Tantric College (sngags pa grwa tshang) lived in this regional house.