Buddhist
Architecture
in the Western
Himalayas
The Tsakhang Gompa near Shey. Auer 2018

the Tsakhang Gompa

Coordinates of the site: 29°22’1.38” northern latitude and 82°57’18.42” eastern longitude, at an altitude of 4434 meters.

The Tsakhang Gompa (btsag khang dgon) is located northwest of Shey (Upper Dolpo) in the vicinity of the Crystal Mountain. It is part of the pilgrimage’s circumambulation (kora). The complex is situated impressively and widely visible on the high-lying terraces immediately in front of a steeply rising rock face on the northern side. The ensemble consists of a cave with a sacred spring, right next to a three-storey, whitewashed residential building on the west side and - slightly higher located on the east side - the multi-storey, redwashed gompa. Both buildings were built directly on the rock face and are typologically interesting.
The interior structure of the gompa with its nested rooms and floors suggests several construction phases. The temple room is located on the upper floor where a window with a balcony is visible from outside. The interior of the chapel is quite narrow, an altar flanked by bookshelves covers the northern wall, one wooden pillar in the middle of the room supports the ceiling.
Another chapel is located on the first floor of the residential house. In addition to the altar and the collection of books, fragments of earlier murals have been preserved here as well. Some small chörten can be found next to the cave, along the access path and on the rocky edges.

References
Kind, Marietta. The Bon Landscape of Dolpo: Pilgrimages, Monasteries, Biographies and the Emergence of Bon. Berlin: Peter Lang 2012, pp. 231-233
Kind, Marietta. Kristallberg im Drachengebrüll. Pilgerreise um den heiligen Berg in Nepal. In: Die Alpen, Schweizer Alpen-Club SPC, 02 2015, pp. 35-43
Mathes, Klaus Dieter. The Sacred Crystal Mountain in Dolpo: Beliefs and Pure Visions of Himalaya Pilgrims and Yogis. In: Journal of the Nepal Research Centre, ed. By A. Wezler, Vol XI 1999, pp. 61-84

Site plan

Map of the Crystal Mountain. Mathes 1999.

Photo documentation

Landscape around the Tsakhang Gompa. Auer 2018

South-western view of the ensemble. Auer 2018

Southern view of the Tsakhang Gompa. Auer 2018

Western view of the Tsakhang Gompa. Auer 2018

Eastern view of the Tsakhang gompa. Auer 2018

Entrance to the Tsakhang gompa. Auer 2018

Eastern view of the residential house. Auer 2018

Western view of the residential house. Auer 2018

The chörten in front of the sacred spring right next to the residential house. Auer 2018

Interior decoration

Bookshelf and altar in the Tsakhang Gompa. Auer 2018

Puja with the Lama´s family. Auer 2018

Chapel in the residential house. Auer 2018


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