Drepung Monasterylocated at the foot of Mount Gephel, is one of the "great three" Gelug university gompas (monasteries) of Tibet. The other two are Ganden Monastery and Sera Monastery.
Drepung is the largest of all Tibetan monasteries and is located on the Gambo Utse mountain, five kilometers from the western suburb of Lhasa.
Freddie Spencer Chapman reported, after his 1936-37 trip to Tibet, that Drepung was at that time the largest monastery in the world, and housed 7,700 monks, "but sometimes as many as 10,000 monks."
Since the 1950s, Drepung Monastery, along with its peers Ganden and Sera, have lost much of their independence and spiritual credibility in the eyes of Tibetans since they operate under the close watch of the Chinese security services.
It was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choge Tashi Palden (1397-1449), one of Tsongkhapa's main disciples, and it was named after the sacred abode in South India of Shridhanyakataka.
Drepung was the principal seat of the Gelugpa school and it retained the premier place amongst the four great Gelugpa monasteries. The Ganden Phodrang in Drepung was the residence of the Dalai Lamas until the Great Fifth Dalai Lama constructed the Potala.
Drepung was known for the high standards of its academic study, and was called the Nalanda of Tibet, a reference to the great Buddhist monastic university of India.
Drepung is now divided into what are known as the seven great colleges: Gomang (sGo-mang), Loseling (Blo-gsal gling), Deyang (bDe-dbyangs), Shagkor (Shag-skor), Gyelwa (rGyal-ba) or Tosamling (Thos-bsam gling), Dulwa, and Ngagpa (sNgags-pa).