Thasung Tsholing Monastery of Ringmo
Coordinates of the site: 29°10’30.21” northern latitude and 82°56’39.09” eastern longitude, at an altitude of 3640 meters.
The settlement of Ringmo (Tsho) is located on the border between Lower and Upper Dolpo, on the extensive landslide dam that formed Phoksumdo Lake. It is a small village of about 50 residential houses with a seasonal population of about 200 people. The Thasung Tsholing Monastery can be found outside the settlement above the south-eastern lakeside, built on a slightly rising terrain, behind which the mountain slopes rise relatively steeply. The sacred compound consists of two temples with a common forecourt, surrounded by nine houses in different condition. Approaching from the southern side of the area, a row of eleven chörten leads to the temples, some other chörten stand between the houses and above the site on the eastern mountain slope. The temple on the northwest side of the ensemble, further referred to as Temple A, is slightly lower and smaller and definitely the older one, which can be seen in both the construction and the conception of the rooms. Sometime after 1990, a new gompa was built on the east side of the existing one, referred to as Temple B. The external dimensions of Tempel A are 7.40 by 7.90 meters, of Temple B 7.30 by 9.40 meters, both entrances face the forecourt. Entering Temple A through the entrance portal on the southeast side, one reaches a narrow entrance room. From here, a narrow side door on the southwest side leads to the interior of the temple on the ground floor. The interior of the temple rooms is oriented from southwest to northeast, it is 4.70 metres wide and 6.65 metres deep, with a room heigt of 2.35 metres. The ceiling of the temple room is supported by four wooden pillars; the altar lies in front of the northeast wall. By using a ladder next to the side door in the entrance room one can access the common room and kitchen on the first floor. A window in the south-western wall of the first floor and the open lantern above the temple room lighten the upper floor as well as the ground floor. The entrance to Temple B faces southwest, according to the ascending topography, the ground floor lies in a higher position. Walking up a few stone steps one can enter an open space between two wooden pillars which forms a small open vestibule. The interior is 6.30metres wide and 6.50 metres deep, with a room heigt of 2.75 metres. Four wooden pillars support the wooden ceiling. One window on each of the side walls enables the natural lighting of the room. The altar and the book shelves are located in front of the northeast wall, opposite the entrance door. A small door on the eastern corner of the southeast facade give access to the common rooms on the first floor. Above the vestibule lies a bright veranda, the northwest part of the first floor is separated by partition walls made of wood planks and contains two sleeping rooms. The roofing of Temple A consists of wooden planks, while Temple B is covered with a yellow painted wooden roof, crowned by a central lantern. The residential houses around the temples, as well as the temples themselves, show a construction typical of this region, made of stone walls with wooden tie rods running horizontally, through which the façades are structured.
References Gutschow, Niels. Chörten in Nepal. Architecture and Buddhist Votive Practice in the Himalaya. Berlin: DOM publishers 2021, pp. 401-426. Kind, Marietta. The Bon Landscape of Dolpo: Pilgrimages, Monasteries, Biographies and the Emergence of Bon. Berlin: Peter Lang 2012, pp. 267-269, 388-393. Snellgrove, David. Himalayan Pilgrimage. A study of Tibetan religion by a traveller through Western Nepal. Oxford 1961, pp. 59-65.