Alchi Monasteries in Ladakh

Sankar Gompa

Sankar Gompa : is a subsidiary of Spitok gompa, having the same head lama. Sankar is easily visited on foot from Leh, lying as it does in Leh's suburbs. About 25 lamas of the yellow-hat sect are attached to Sankar but only a few live here permanently. Thus, it is only open to the public from 7 to 10 am and from 5 to 7 p.m. Sankar gompa is about 90 years old but is located on the site of a small temple that was built about 500 years ago.

From the street one enters the gompa's front yard. To the right are a few steps climbing up to the double doors that open onto the Dukhang or main assembly hall. The entrance porch has paintings of the Guardians of the Four Directions on either side of the entry door. On the left wall of the verandah is a "Wheel of Life" held by Yama, the deity that determines a person's future fate after death. The wall on the right depicts the Old Man of Long Life. In the Dukhang there is a throne opposite the entrance that is reserved for the gompa's head lama. To the left of the throne are colourful butter sculptures made by mixing butter and barley flour. Further to the left is a glass-fronted case containing the image of Yamadhaka, a fierce guardian divinity. To the right of the throne is an image of Avalokitesvara with 1,000 arms and eleven heads. The Dukhang's side walls have new paintings of various Buddhas, while various guardian divinities appear on either side of the entrance hall.

On either side of the throne seat are doors entering into a small chapel behind. This room has a central image of Tsong-kha-pa, founder of the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism and his two chief disciples. Below the disciples are images of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha) on either side of Tsong-kha-pa. To the left is an image of Avalokitesvara, with 1,000 arms and eleven heads (nine Bodhisattva heads, one head angry at the suffering in the world and a Buddha head on top). To the right is a case containing numerous Tibetan bronzes. Against the right wall is a White Guardian, and a mandala of Amchi (the Buddha of Medicine).

Exiting the Dukhang, turn left, go through a door and up one flight of steps. Immediately on the leftis a door leading into a small inner courtyard. The walls of this courtyard are painted with the Tibetan calendar (resembling a large chessboard) and murals depicting the proper way for lamas to live. A mural across the top of one side of the courtyard shows Sakyamuni in the middle, flanked by his two chief disciples. On the far right of the mural is Tsong-kha-pa and on the far left is Atisa, an Indian Buddhist and great teacher of Buddhism in Tibet.

Diagonally opposite the door leading to this courtyard is the entrance to the Dukar Lha-khang, a small temple devoted to the deity Dukar. The main image is a very imposing statue of Dukar, inset with turquoise and shown with 1,000 arms, 1,000 feet, 1,000 heads and 100,000 eyes. Numerous bangle bracelets have been left as offerings by women devotees at the feet of this deity. To the left of Dukar is a case containing various bronze images.

On the right is a statue of Maitreya (the Buddha of the Future) and another case of bronze statues. Directly over the front porch of the gompa is the Kandshur, the 108 volumes of Buddha's teachings and images of the Three Buddhas - Sakyamuni (the Past Buddha), the Present Buddha and Maitreya (the Future Buddha).


Changspa, Opp. Eagle Guest House, Leh - Ladakh - 194101 (J & K) India


B-1242, GD Colony, 1st Floor, Mayur Vihar Phase-3, New Delhi - 110096


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