Thiksey Gompa Tour

 

Thiksey gompa was built some 600 years ago and consists of 12 levels ascending a hillside, culminating in an incarnate Lama's private apartments at the summit. The gompa contains 10 temples; below the monastery itself are chapels and "houses" stretching down the hillside. Some 100 monks of the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism live here. After entering the main courtyard to the immediate right and up several steps is a new temple containing a large Buddha statue. This Buddha figure, 15 meters tall was constructed in 1970 to comemmorate a visit to Thiksey by the Dalai Lama. The statue is the largest Buddha figure in Ladakh and took four years to construct. The statue is made of clay and covered with gold paint. Inside, the statue is filled with both the Kandshur and the Tandshur - volumes of Buddhist canonical texts. The statue was made entirely by local craftsmen and represents Maitreya, ("compassion" in Sanskrit) the Buddha of the Future. The prophecy made of the Future Buddha is that the world will be undergoing such chaos that the Future Buddha will teach compassion to the people.

Located directly above this temple is a small narrow room used as a schoolroom for local boys. Here the lamas instruct the children and some are later selected to become lamas. Traditionally, Ladakhi families donated one son to become a lama although this practice is gradually disappearing. Returning to the main courtyard and going up the steep steps directly across from the new temple, on the far wall will be mural of two Tibetan calendars with the "Wheel of Life" depicted between them. The central portion of the wheel has representations of a snake, a bird and a pig, symbolizing greed, desire and ignorance respectively. Buddhists believe that it is crucial to overcome these earthly ties in order to become enlightened and escape the cycle of death and rebirth. The wheel is held by Yama, a black figure who, after people's death, determines their future fate based on their deeds during their lifetime. To the right of these murals is the main prayer room which contains racks of books along the left wall. Many of these books are handwritten or hard painted. Recent editions are done by block printing, as was previously done in Tibet. In a small room behind the Dukhang is a large image of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha) flanked by two smaller Bodhisttva images. On the left is the 11-headed Avalokitesvara, form of the Buddha corresponding to the Hindu god Shiva. Exiting the main prayer room, partially down the staircase to the main courtyard is a steep, narrow set of steps to the left. While climbing these steps, one can see several temples devoted to various guardian divinities. Near the summit and to the right is a small temple devoted to Maitreya, the future Buddha. The wall decorations consist of a series of small images of lamas, each placed in a separate wooden rack with thankas behind. An enclosed verandah, which is actually over the main prayer room, leads to the head lama's private apartments, all of which were recently decorated in Tibetan style. The inside walls of the verandah have modern paintings of the eighty-four Tantric Masters. On the rooftop is the Lamukhang temple where only men may enter. Also on the rooftop is Thiksey's library, containing numerous religious books including volumes of the Kandshur and Tandshur mentioned earlier.

 
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