Larung Gar is a Buddhist community in the Larung Valley of Sertar County, in Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It is the largest, and arguably the highest, Tibetan Buddhist institute in the world.
Larung Gar is the local name for the mostly Tibetan and Han Chinese student community, which grew around the Serta Larung Five Science Buddhist Institute.
Larung Gar began with a small group of students building their residences near the Institute which was founded in 1980. More than 1,000 new homes were built each year and by 1986, the resident population was around 6,000, nuns and monks combined. As the institute gained popularity and grew in reputation and size, more Chinese and international students arrived and built their own residences to receive teachings. In 2016, Larung Gar had around 40,000 residents including monks, nuns, and visiting students.
The settlement is composed of thousands of red and brown residences and meditation huts, built by the residents with mudbricks or wood. A wall separates the monk side from the nun side. Most of the houses have just enough space for a bed, a stove, and a chimney. There is no heating system, and the toilet is communal, separate for men and women. According to the monks of the region, it takes around a week to build a house in the area. The cost of construction gets cheaper as one goes higher up in the mountains.
Due to the political disputes with the Chinese government, the Larung Gar residents have been harassed by the authorities since the 1990s. In 2016, the government applied an official restriction and limited the number of residents to 5,000, with no more than 3,500 nuns and 1,500 monks. The government forcibly evicted some of them. Most of the houses were demolished during that time.
The settlement is considered to be a sacred place.