This is a huge monastery with a lot of pilgrims. The cobble stone road walking into the monastery is great. There are a number of prayer wheels on the right when you enter. You are pretty much on your own after you enter. 2013 Update: Its interesting to see they have constructed a new entrance gate so no more walking up that road.
As it turns out, my guide tells me that the Monks do not have debating class on the weekends. He does have a relative that is a Monk at Sera and gave him a call. He told my guide that there would a chanting session we should come see. I’m glade we did. It was another amazing experience. Some Monks were preparing food in front of the main hall as others prepared for the chanting. There were several locals present prostrating inside the temple as the Monks began to chanting with the occasional beating of a special drum and cymbals. I was the only foreigner present. The chanting is beautiful. You can take pictures and video record everything for 30 rmb. I was happy to do so. The chanting takes place in the main temple. This is done daily, even on weekends around 3pm. Not all the Monks at Sera would be present for this.
When visiting Sera Monastery, be sure to find the debating court yard. This is not well mark, but the monks are very friendly and will point you in the right direction. The debating starts at about 3pm so time your trip accordingly so you don’t miss this intriguing part of the Monks life. The monks welcome you to take photo and video if you like and there is no charge. The way it works is that the monks team up, one sits on the ground and the other stands. The standing monk asks question of the seated monk concerning certain Buddhist text. A correct answer receives an animated slap of the hand thrusting one hand downward. A wrong answer and the standing monk will cross his hands. This should not be missed! Update 2013: The Monks do not debate on Saturday and Sunday typically. Check with your guide service and plan accordingly if you want to see this.
This is often overlooked as it is not well defined of what this building is. This is where all the Buddhist scrolls, text and books are printed. While everything is for sale, unfortunately for tourist, everything is in Tibetan. There are small scrolls of different Buddhist prayers you can purchase for 20rmb and it comes in a nice yellow wrap. I purchased one for compassion. Although I cannot read it, it has more meaning knowing what it represents.