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Yarchen Monastery, China

Deep in the mountains of northwestern Sichuan in China, on the Tibetan plateau, there exists a town in an isolated, beautiful and clean valley that is actually an entire monastery itself – the Yarchen Monastery. Living conditions here are quite tough. Because of its high altitude (4000 meter above sea level) it’s cold and cut off from the outside. Food, water and clothes are in extremely short supply, and electric power is only available from 7pm to 10pm every day. Few people have actually heard of this place and its location is rarely marked on maps.

For regular travelers, perhaps Yarchen Monastery is not a good place for sightseeing, unless you want to experience absolute isolation and Buddhism atmosphere without being afraid of the adverse conditions, but from a height the entire monastery is quite a sight.

The monastery is home to about 10,000 monks and nuns making it the largest monastery in the world. According to National Geographic 50,000 monks live in the monastery, but I believe the number is grossly exaggerated or a misprint.

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