Dargye Phuntsoling Gompa of Shipchok
Coordinates of the site: 29° 7’41.20” northern latitude and 83°12’5.81” eastern longitude, at an altitude of 4146 meters.
The Monastery of Shipchok is situated in a wide side valley east of Dho Tarap, on the left bank of the river. The complex is located on a slightly elevated plane, easily recognizable even from the distance by its size and colour. The ensemble consists of a temple and several residential houses, which are located on the north and east side of the temple. A row of chörten extends over 88 meters south of the temple, one chörten stands quite close in front of the temples south facade.
The temple itself is two-storeyed, red and whitewashed and decorated with the characteristic superstructures at the corners of the attic. The main building measures 6.80 x 8.90 metres, with a height of 5.00 metres up to the attic construction on the west side. An annex with external dimensions of 2.40 x 4.20 metres, which also extends over both storeys, is attached on the south side. A one-storey vestibule, measuring up to 9.40 x 4.70 meters, is located on the east side of the temple.
The entrance to the temple faces east and leads down to a small porch which gives access to the annex straight ahead and to the vestibule of the temples interior on the right. The vestibule is 6.00 wide and 4.00 metres deep, with a room hight of 2.13 metres. Two pillars support the ceiling, which has an opening through which the room is lit from above. The portal to the interior of the temple lies in the vestibules west wall, to the right there is a window, through which one can see from the vestibule into the temples interior.
The main room is up to 7. 90 wide and 5.85 metres deep, with a room height of 2.50 metres. Four pillars and two transverse main beams support the ceiling. Two windows are located in the upper area of the eastern wall, reaching up above the roof of the vestibule. A room-high painted wooden altar which contains in its central niche the three main figures and laterally several further sculptures and ritual equipment, stands in front of the west wall. The interior walls of the north, east and south wall are covered with murals. The four wooden pillars, capitals, and main beams of the ceiling construction, are mainly decorated with colourful paintings.
The second floor can be reached via a wooden ladder in the annex, which also provides access to the roof of the temple through another opening in the ceiling on the upper floor. The common room is used as a storeroom and kitchen, and the surfaces inside the room are accordingly sooty. Only the entrance door on the south side and a small window on the east side of the room provide light.
On the other side of the river, northeast of the Shipchok Monastery, is another group of houses, known as Do-ro, representing the last settlement of the Tarap valley towards east. On the slopes of the northern side two striking rammed earth ruins have been preserved. They are evidently the remains of multi-storey fortifications, of which only parts of the perimeter walls have survived.