Drigung Monastery is located in Medrogongkar county and the distance from Lhasa is about 140 Kilometres. It was founded by Kyoppa Jigten Gonpo in 1179. He was one of the main discipline of Paktru Dorje Gyalpo, a disciple of Dakpo Lhaje who in turn is the heart son of the Yogi Milarepa. Even before this, in the eight century, master Padmasambhava came here and blessed the location.
It is said that when the founder came here, a mysterious Dri or a female Yak shouted and walked in a clockwise turn, which he took as a good sign. He then decided to build his monastery here and gave the name Drigung. Gradually this became an important learning and meditation center of Drigung Kagyu, a sub-school of the Kagyupa school of Tibetan Buddhism. It gained a reputation for serious study and practice, attracting many followers from different Tibetan areas including the later founder of the Gelugpa school, master Tsongkhapa.
Close to the monastery, there is a famous sky-burial sit, or durtro. Which was blessed by the founder and many Tibetans hope that their body can be brought here. This is because the masters and and the monks conduct Powa, or the transference of consciousness, for the dead. This ritual involves ejecting the wandering mind of the dead beings into the Western Pureland of Buddha Amitabha through the power of Tantric practice. The ritual practice takes place in the main courtyard of the monastery before the body is taken to the Durtro, where visitors are usually not allowed.
The monastery include an assembly hall other chapels which enshrine statues of Buddha Shakyamuni, Padmasambhava, Kagyu forefathers and of course the successive Drigung Kagyu masters. There is also a chapel dedicated to Apchi, the protector goddess of the Drigung Kagyu school. But the monastery is different from the larger Gelukpa monasteries around Lhasa because most of the monks live in semi-independent lodgings scattered across the hillside instead of in regulated colleges.