Stok Gompa in Ladakh

Stok Gompa

Stok Gompa : is a subsidiary of Spitok and both were founded by the same lama, Nawang Lotus, during the reign of King Takpa Bumlde. Stok belongs to the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism and currently has about 20 lamas living there. The oldest parts of the gompa are some 550 years old though the main Dukhang is only about 50 years old.

Entering the central courtyard with its tall prayer flag pole, the main Dukhang is up a short flight of steps. The entrance verandah has new and colourful mural paintings of the Guardians of the Four Directions. Inside, the Dukhang has been recently repainted and the room is decorated with numerous banners and thankhas.

The entrance wall on either side of the door depicts various guardian divinities. On the left side wall the central image is of Vajrapani (Vajra-In-Hand), while the image on the left is that of Avalokitesvara in his four-armed manifestation. Avalokitesvara is also known as the "Lord of All He Surveys" and is believed to be reincarnated in the Dalai Lama.

The right side wall has a central image of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha) flanked by his two chief disciples. On the right is an image of Amchi the Buddha of Medicine (painted in red), flanked by Tara on the right and Nangyalma on the left. The front of the Dukhang has an image of Amchi on the left with a painting of Sakyamuni behind. The central throne is reserved for the Dalai Lama and the throne to the right is for the head lama of Stok gompa. On the right is an impressive image of Yamadhaka, a fierce guardian divinity.

There is a small chapel behind the Dukhang, entered through doors by the side of the throne seats. This chapel is the oldest part of the gompa. Its central image is of Tsong-kha-pa, the founder of the yellow-hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. To the right of this two-storey high image are three small statues: a yellow-hat lama and two of Sakyamuni. To the left of the central image is another yellow-hat lama, Avalokitesvara in his four-armed manifestation and Maitreya, the Future Buddha or Buddha of Compassion. By the wall on the right is an image of the gompa's founder, Nawang Lotus.

Leave the Dukhang and go immediately to the right through a low door. On the right is a small chapel with a row of Buddha images. These eight Buddhas depict the eight hand gestures of the Buddha. Unfortunately, the Buddhas are covered with cloth so most of the gestures are not visible. Masks used during Stok's January festival, are hanging from the pillars in this room.

Leaving this chapel, go up the stairs in front of it for two flights, emerging on a small upper courtyard. Straight across the courtyard area is a door leading to the head lama's apartment. It is decorated with several thankhas but is mostly notable for the intricate woodcarving on the two low tables in front of the seat.

After leaving this room, a door on the left side of the courtyard opens onto the gompa's library. This room has a complete set of the Kandshur, the 108 volumes of the Buddha's teachings. The image in this library is of Sakyamuni.

Return to the main courtyard and to the left of the Dukhang is a new temple dedicated to Avalokitesvara. This temple has a new and large image of Avalokitesvara with his 1,000 arms (to demonstrate his enormous strength) and eleven heads (nine Bodhisattva heads, one head angry at the suffering in the world and a Buddha head on top). On either side of this image are numerous small stucco images of lamas and Buddhas. In the wall opposite the entrance is a small cave-like opening through which one can see three statues of the Buddha. These images are actually inside the large chorten that stands behind this temple.


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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