Tsurphu Monastery was completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960's. The late Ven. Drupon Dechen Rimpoche was given the challenging responsibility of initiating the rebuilding the monastery in 1980 by the His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje while living in exile in India. That rebuilding is near completion Tsurphu monastery dates to 1187 when the first Karmapa - Dusum Kyenpa - identified the auspicious location for his dwelling. It is with this Great Karmapa that the tradition of reincarnating lamas was introduced in Tibet, and then throughout the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
Significantly, the present constructive energy at Tsurphu has arisen with the arrival of the reincarnate 17th Karmapa- Urgyen Drodul Tinley Dorje- who was enthroned at Tsurphu September 1992.
Many great monasteries in Tibet once possessed giant silk appliqué thangka for public display and worship. These often huge banners comprise some of Tibet's greatest art treasures because of their spiritual significance, size, and intricate design. Some survived the cultural revolution - most did not. The giant thangkas of Tsurphu monastery in central Tibet - traditional seat of the Karmapas - were both destroyed during this time. A final project is being initiated now for a 40 mt. applique called the Tsechur Drabje. With the completion of this project, Tsurphu will again have its lost heritage of 4 large appliques restored and will continue sending its blessings to all sentient beings. The thangka is a visual representation of the medicine of Buddhism. As in all monasteries of Tibetan Buddhist lineages, thangkas are very important. Called goku (gos. sKu, chenmo), thongdrol, or ("liberation by sight") because just the seeing of a perfectly proportioned Buddha image using correct sacred geometry, ( Tibetan iconographic proportions) as prescribed in the tantras and sutras from ancient Buddhist times, brings the benefit of planting the seed of enlightenment in the observer's heart.
This eventually leads to liberation from samsaric conditions.