Buddhist
Architecture
in the Western
Himalayas
The hamlet of Kagar seen from northwest. Androschin 2019
The hamlet of Kagar seen from northwest. Auer 2018
Northwest view of the ensemble. Auer 2018
West view of the ensemble. Androschin 2019
The remains of the temple and the chörten next to it. Auer 2018
Southwest view of the ensemble. Androschin 2019

the Trangmar Gompa of Kagar

Coordinates of the site: 29° 9’0.86” northern latitude and 83°10’16.83” eastern longitude, at an altitude of 4076 meters.

The Kagar hamlet of Tokyu is situated on a terrace overlooking the left bank of the river valley. It consists of several residential houses, two temples and numerous prayer walls and chörten. The Trangmar Gompa is located on the northern side of the settlement, next to a group of large chörten on its western side. It was built at the foot of a rocky crag called buddha-ri. Snellgrove calls it brag-dmar, “the temple of the Red Crag”.
The building is only partially preserved today, but its structure can still be approximately reconstructed based on available documentations. Until 2015, the temple was preserved as a two-storey building. At that time the temple was obviously still in good structural condition. It consisted of an about 2-metre-deep vestibule with its entrance faces to the south, from where one entered an 8.40-metre-wide and 9.90-metre-deep assembly hall, which was supported by six pillars in two rows. Behind the northern wall of the assembly hall, there was a 1.90 metre deep enclosed, sacred chamber that extended across the width of the building and could apparently be entered from above through an opening in the ceiling. Both behind the bookshelf on the rear wall of the assembly hall and in the sacred chamber, wall paintings of high quality were preserved, that indicate a dating of the first half of the 15th century.
Many parts of the painting have already disappeared today, as the structure of the temple has been severely damaged by the 2015 earthquake. The poor state of the construction and the increasing decline led to irreparable damages in the interior of the temple. In order to protect the remaining furnishing and decoration, some exterior walls, as well as the windows and doors and the roof have been renewed.
In some parts of the building traces of the former walls and plaster layers can still be discerned on the otherwise unplastered walls, for example on the east and north side of the unroofed vestibule. Only parts of the wooden structure inside the assembly hall - consisting of four pillars with overlying, carved capitals, as well as the wooden ceiling - are preserved. The room-high painted shelf on the north side of the room, where surviving parts of the sculptures and the books are kept, has been preserved as well. The mural paintings which are located behind the shelf on the north side of the room can only be seen in fragments. Unfortunately, the sacred chamber behind the rear wall of the assembly hall has almost completely disappeared. On the north side of the building, the former plaster of the chamber is preserved in the wall base, the base of the former outside-wall, made of rammed earth, has survived only partially.

References
Snellgrove, David. Four Lamas of Dolpo. Cambridge, Massachusetts 1967, p. 194.
Jest, Corneille. Communautés de langue tibetaine du Népal. Paris 1975.
Jest, Corneille. Settlements in Dolpo. In: Toffin, Gérard (Ed.), Man and his house in the Himalayas. Ecology of Nepal, Kathmandu 2016 (reprint of 1981), p. 193-207.
Gansach, Ada. Social Constructions. A Comparative Study of Architectures in the High Himalaya of North West Nepal. PhD Thesis at The Architectural Association School of Architecture London, 1999.
Heller, Amy. Hidden Treasures of the Himalayas. Tibetan manuscripts, paintings and sculptures of Dolpo. Chicago 2009, p. 201-212.

Site plan

Map of the landscape arround the village of Kagar in Lower Dolpo. TU Graz/Auer 2021

Site plan of Trangmar Gompa in Kagar. TU Graz/Auer 2021

A schematic floor plan of the Trangmar Gompa of Kagar shows the structural changes between 1993 and 2018. TU Graz/Auer 2021

Photo documentation

Northern view of the gompa. Auer 2018

North-eastern view of the gompa. Auer 2018

South-eastern view of the gompa. Auer 2018

Entrance to the unroofed vestibule. Auer 2018

Entrance to the assembly hall. Auer 2018

Vestibule with remains of the former front wall of the assembly hall. Auer 2018

Interior decoration

Reconstructed front wall with the entrance to the assembly hall. Auer 2018

Interior of the preserved assembly hall, view to the east. Auer 2018

Interior of the preserved assembly hall, view to the northeast. Auer 2018

Interior of the preserved assembly hall with the altar and the bookshelf on the northern side. Auer 2018

Wooden altar shelf next to one of the windows of the reconstucted western wall. Auer 2018

Part of the Tibetan book collection. Auer 2018

Remains of the murals behind the altar shelf in front of the northern wall. Auer 2018

Remains of the murals behind the altar shelf. Auer 2018

Remains of the murals behind the altar shelf. Auer 2018

Remains of the murals behind the altar shelf. Auer 2018

Remains of the murals behind the altar shelf. Auer 2018

Remains of the murals behind the altar shelf. Auer 2018

Remains of the collection of figures in the assembly hall. Auer 2018

Remains of the collection of figures in the assembly hall. Auer 2018

Remains of the collection of figures in the assembly hall. Auer 2018


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