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September 05,2019


In the district of Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur, there is strong impact of Buddhism. That is why most of the Buddhist sculptures are found in the monasteries of Lahaul-Spiti. The part of the Himalayas (Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur) which borders Tibet is quite under the influence of ‘Lamaistic Buddhism’ (Northern Buddhism). The architecture here is quite different, from what we understand by the hill architecture. The roofs here are flat, walls have marked inward slope and are made of roofs here are flat, walls have marked inward slope and are made of sun-dried bricks or simple stones, unlike the timber bonded stones. The monasteries found in the Himalayas are of three types. Tak-Phu (monastery lies in a cave), Gompa ( which is suggestive of a solitary place) and third is ‘La-Khang’ (temple near some village). It is also called ‘da-Khang’ or ‘Tsugla-Khang’ which means an academy or a meeting room.

MRIKULA DEVI :- This is situated about 54 kms. from Keylong at Udaipur. The ancient name of ‘Udaipur’ was ‘Moorgul’ or ‘Mrikul’. There is a common belief among the people that this temple was designed by same architect, who designed ‘Hidimba temple’ of Manali for Raja Bahadur Singh of Kullu. This temple was built by Raja Ajay Barman of Kashmir.

TRILOKINATH TEMPLE :- This beautiful temple is situated five kilometers from Udaipur at Village ‘Tunde’ in district Lahaul-Spiti. Now this place is famous by the name of Trilokinath. Archaeologists believe that this temple represents Kashmiri-Kannauj art which flourished art which flourished during the period of Raja Lalitaditya of Kashmir (725-756 A.D.). There are so many presumptions that this Shiva Temple was Transformed into Buddhist shrine but according to Goetz, its present image of Avalokiteshwara- Trilokinath can’t be earlier than that of 12th century. Whatever fact may be, this temple is sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus alike. In the centre of the compound is a stone image of Bull-Nandi. The silver idol of Kali in her aspect as Mahisasur Mardani was installed by ‘Thakur Himpala’ in 1569-70.

GURU GHANTAL GOMPA (3020 mts):- This Buddhist temple is situated 4 km. above the confluence of Chandra and Bhaga in village ‘Tupchiling’ (in Lahaul). The Avalokiteshwara-a marble head sculpture belongs to 8th century A.D. It has been consecrated by Guru Padamsambhav. This temple got the name Guru Ghantal because, at this place, one of the 84sidhas of Buddhists had been performing ‘tapasya’. This is a fully woodentemple. An annual fair is held here in the month of June called “Ghantal festival” in which Lamas and Thakurs Participate together. There is also an idol dedicated to Bajreshwari Devi in the Gompa.

GEMUR MONASTERY :- The beautiful sculpture of ‘Marichi Vajravarahi’ belong to 11th-12th centuries A.D., located in Lahaul. The figure of the goddess is lovely and sophisticated. It is in Kashmiri style (in Lahaul). It is 18 km. from Keylong in ‘Bhaga Valley’ where devil dance is held during July in the Gompa.

SASHUR GOMPA :- This Buddhist temple was built in the 17th century by ‘Deva Gyatso’ (in Lahaul). During June/July this monastery attracts lots of visitors when Lamas perform devil dance. It belongs to red hat sect and is located among blue pines. This gompa has a fifteen feet ‘Tankha’ an invaluable wall painting depicting all 84 sidhas of Buddhism.

KARDANG GOMPA (in Lahaul):- It is situated in the village Kardang at 15,000 feet high ‘Rangch Peak’. It was erected around A.D. 900. Kardang is the largest Gompa popular throughout the region. It was in ruins uptil 1912when ‘Lama Norbu’ of Khardang renovated it. With colourful frescoes and murals, it has an enormous prayer drum containing strips of paper upon which the sacred mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ is inscribed a million times. The library here contains largest collection of ‘Kangyur’ and ‘Tangyur’. Nuns and Lamas enjoy equality; Lamas can marry and generally they stay with their families during Summer and work in fields only to return in winter. Its founder Lama Norbu died in 1952 and his mortal remains, silver Chityal stupa are preserved in the Gompa. The store here has large collection of musical instruments, dresses, tankhas and other articles. In the Khardang village is another small gompa of Lama Gozzangwa and outside the gompa are rock carvings and two  big Chortens.

TAYUL GOMPA :- This was built in the 17th century by a Lama of ‘Tibet Khan’ area, named ‘Lama Sarjan Rinchain’. He belonged to Gompa Dugma community. This gompa above the village of ‘Satingri’ has 5 mrters tall statue of ‘Padma Sambhava’ and  his two manifestations as ‘Singhmukha’ and ‘Vajravarashi’. The library here houses 101 volumes of ‘Kangyur’ and ‘Tankhas’ depicting the life of Lord Buddha. Tayul gompa written in Tibetan as Tayul-means chosen place. This monastery houses a hundred million ‘mani’ wheel by turning the minds of sentiment beings open to the compassion of the lord. This mani wheel is reputed to be “self turning” on auspicious occasions. According to the Lamas this wheel last turned on its own in 1986. After almost hundred years of its construction a Ladakhi ‘Tulku Tashi Tanphel’ of Tagna monastery renovated and extended by building of this gompa. The walls have been decorated with murals, added images referred above and brought in the ‘Narthang’ edition of the ‘Kangyur’ from Tibet.

TABO MONASTERY :- It is the seat of one of the most famous Buddhist monasteries-‘sherlang’, ‘Duang’, ‘Chamba’ Chibbo’, ‘Domlang Gompas’ regarded by many as only next to the ‘Tholong Gompa’ in Tibet. The 10th century Tabo monastery houses more than 30lamas, large number of scriptures and pieces of art, wall paintings-tankhas and stucco. This monastery was built by a Western Tibet ruler named ‘Ye-Sashoad’ around the year 996 A.D., with the insciration from a Buddhist scholar ‘Rinchen Jango’. Tabo monastery is definitely the oldest and archeologically the most important monastery of Spiti. 46 km long years were taken in its completion by the workmen who had come from Kashmir, Kullu and Swat alike far off and different places.

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