Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, also known as Serthar Buddhist Institute, sits in the Larung Valley at an elevation of 4,000 meters, about 15 km from the town Sêrtar, in Sertar County, Garze Prefecture in the traditional Tibetan region of Kham. The academy was founded in 1980 in an entirely uninhabited valley by Jigme Phuntsok, an influential lama of the Nyingma tradition. Despite its remote location, Larung Gar grew from a handful of disciples to be one of the largest and most influential centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. Today it is home to over 40,000 monks, nuns and lay-students.
The campus of Larung Gar is enormous. Houses for monks and nuns sprawl all over the valley and up the surrounding mountains. A huge wall through the middle of Larung Gar separates the monk side from the nun side. Monks and nuns are not allowed out of their designated areas except in front of the main monastery assembly hall which is common to both nuns and monks. The houses are all built in a wood style that is traditionally found in this region, and built so close together that they appear almost on top of each other.