Samye Monastery is located about 150km southeast of Lhasa, not far of the north shore of Tsangpo, in a sand dunes landscape. Samye is a Monastery of a medium size if we compare it to the large Guelugpa Monasteries around Lhasa, much later, it’s true. Its symbolic value is huge. Its construction represents the triumph of Buddhism on the indegenious religion that preceded it, but this wasn’t happening without difficulties. The great king Trisong Destsen (742-792?) is at the origin of the construction of Samyé. He invited the big master Padmasambhava who by the strengths of his magical skills defeated all the locals divinities, turning them into religious protector. So he made possible the foundation of Samye.
The monastery is built on the model of a mandala. In the center stands the main temple, three floors high, opening to the east and identified at the Mount Sumeru. The four cardinal points, four temples represent the four major continents and between them, eight temples correspond to the eight minor continents. Four stupas in four colors, white, red, blue and black mark the four cardinal points. Each was built by one of the king’s ministers. Just as the universe is surrounded by a barrier of mountains, the monastery is surrounded by a circular enclosure. Outside the walls, each of the three wives of the king built a temple.