Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 and later enlarged by the Fifth Dalai Lama. Drepung, which means rice heap in Tibetan, lies 8 kilometers west of Mt. Gambo Utse. The monastery covers a floor space of more than 200 thousand square meters.
The main structures of the monastery include the Main Assembly Hall, four Tantric colleges and Ganden Palace. The tshomchen of Drepung, covering 4,500 square meters and supported by 183 pillars in the center of the monastery, is the best known, most powerful tschomen of all the monasteries in Tibet. Gilded Buddha and Sakyamuni are enshrined and worshipped in this hall where the Iron Bar Lama, assistant to the the chief of the tshomchen, would take over administrative power of Lhasa during the Great Prayer Festival.
Ganden Potrang Palace was the regular residence of the Dalai Lamas before the reconstruction of Potala palace. The palace is divided into two sections. The front section is Dalai Lamas' living quarter and the rear is the chanting hall. On the first day of the grand Shonton Festival, ceremonies are held in the courtyard of this palace.