Located in the Jinchuan County of the Rgyalrong Tibetan Region, one will find the TurJe Chen Po(ཁྲོ་སྐྱབས་ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཆེན་པོ།). Known in Chinese as Guanyin Temple（观音庙）, this is the most pilgrimaged site in Amdo Tibet. The monastery is located at the top of Guanyin Mountain, and overlooks the Checen River as it flows through Guanyin Town.
History of the Guanyin Temple
In the 7th century A.D. Rgyalrong Tibetan Region there were 18 Tusi Kings. At this time, the Guanyin Temple originally belonged to the Tshoscap King. Now the monastery is run by the Checen (Jinchuan) sect instead.
In recent years the monastery has been renovated and expanded upon. At the monastery today, one will find Guanyin Temple, Lotus Hall (all three layers of it), a restaurant, a bookstore, and more. The road up the side of the mountain has also recently been widened and repaved, making the journey a little less hair-raising for guests.
Every year, people come from Amdo, Kham, and sometimes even Lhasa to visit the Guanyin Temple. For some, this is a pilgrimage that begins in their hometown and ends at the monastery, and for those particularly devoted, it will include full body prostrations the entire way. In the Tibetan Buddhist’s mind, it is held with almost the same regard as Lhasa’s famous pilgrimage site, and therefore is commonly known as “the Second Potala Palace”. (Tagong Monastery is also held with similar regard.)
The peak season for Guanyin Temple is in the winter when the locals have the time to make the pilgrimage. It is during the Spring Festival (which is actually held at the end of winter) that the monastery tends to see some of its largest crowds.
Guests traveling from Maerkang to the temple can take the bus to the town of Guanyin, before making their way up the mountain to the monastery. The bus between Maerkang and Guanyin town takes approximately two hours leaving Maerkang at 7:00am, and returning from Guanyin at 3:00pm (current at the time of writing).
Once in Guanyin town, travellers have two options of actually reaching the top of Guanyin Mountain. If you choose to walk it, there are stairs leading up the mountain which cut out some of the winding back and forth that the road takes. Alternatively, from Guanyin Town, it is relatively cheap and easy to rent a car to take you up the mountain (and again back down).
When you have arrived at Guanyin Monastery, guests may respectfully participate in the religious activities if they choose. If you enter Guanyin Temple, you will be asked to remove your shoes, but Lotus Hall does not require this. There is no entrance fee for the monastery, although you will see donations inside at the altars. Feel free to take photos outside of the stunning valley, or the ornate architecture, but respect that inside the buildings others are there to worship.
Besides this aspect, guests enjoy the view from the monastery of the luscious green valley below. The trip to the top of the mountain is worth it for the breath-taking view alone! Standing on the platform down the stairs directly across from Guanyin Temple, play a little game of eye-spy to find the elephant shaped mountain or the giant prayer wheel in the midst of town.
If you get hungry, at the bottom of the stairs to the right there is another staircase leading down to a restaurant that is reasonably priced. There is a bookstore located just past the temple if you are looking for something to remember your visit by, however, English books are in short supply.