Ganden Monastery is located on the southern bank of Lhasa River, 60 km from Lhasa City. It is one of the earliest and largest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, and stands atop of the six famous temples of Gelugpa, a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Every year, Buddha Painting Unfolding Festival is held in the monastery, attracting thousands of visitors and disciples.
Ganden Monastery was completely destroyed during the rebellion of 1959. In 1966 it was severely shelled by Red Guard artillery and monks then had to dismantle the remains. Most of Tsongkhapa's mummified body was burned but his skull and some ashes were saved from the fire by Bomi Rinpoche, the monk who had been forced to carry the body to the fire. Re-building has been continuing since the 1980s and the "red-painted lhakang in the centre is the reconstruction of Ganden's sanctum sanctorum containing Tsongkapa's reliquary chorten called the Tongwa Donden, 'Meaningful to Behold.'
Since Ganden Monastery is the ancestral monastery of Gelugpa, the abbots of Ganden Monastery, the Ganden Tripas, are regarded as the abbots of Gelugpa as well. The Ganden Tripas are only outranked by the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lamas.