Tak Thok Gompa in Ladakh

Tak Thok Gompa

Tak Thok Gompa : is situated some ten kilometers further up from Chemre in the Chemre Valley. The Rimpoche or head lama of Tak Thok is from Tibet and is highly respected by Ladakhis. The gompa houses about 55 lamas of the Nying-ma-pa sect of Buddhism, also known as the "Old Order". Members of this sect are followers of Padme Sambhava's teachings and Tak Thok is the only gompa in Ladakh that follows this order. The name Tak Thok in Ladakhi means "Rock Roof" and refers to the cave chapel found in this unusual gompa. Entering the main courtyard, one is immediately struck by the rock outcroppings that surround the gompa. Indeed, the wooden front of the chapel is only a front for the cave behind it and most of the gompa consists of rooms hollowed out of the stone cliff either by nature or man. The cave chapel is to the left as one enters the central courtyard. A small anteroom to the cave chapel has been recently painted with the Guardian Divinities of the Four Directions. In the front of the cave chapel are images of Padme Sambhava and Avalokitesvara (analogous to the Hindu god Shiva and easily recognizable by his eleven heads and 1,000 arms). Behind this image is a small locked door leading to the small cave where Padme Sambhava is supposed to have lived and meditated for three years. This cave is not open to the public. The low roof of the chapel is the stone of the cliff.

Leaving the cave chapel, go up a flight of stairs and on the right will be the Kandshur Lha-khang.Tak Thok GompaThe Kandshur is the 108 volumes of Buddha's teachings and a complete set of this important religious work is found in this temple. There are also statues of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha) with his two chief disciples by his side. The walls are decorated with murals of guardian divinities. Opposite the Kandshur Lha-khang and to the left is a small chapel containing religious books and four small statues of Lord Buddha.

Returning to the central courtyard, the Dukhang or main assembly hall will be on the right (the same side as the courtyard entrance). The verandah entrance to the Dukhang has beautiful new murals of guardian divinities. These murals are covered by cloth all year, except during the gompa's festival, in order to preserve their colour but just lift the cloth up to admire the workmanship.

In the Dukhang are several rows of low seats for the lamas. Opposite the entrance is a throne seat reserved solely for the Dalai Lama, who visited Tak Thok in 1980. To the left of this throne seat is a wall painting of Padme Sambhava and on the right is a painting of Sakyamuni.

On the right wall towards the front is a glass-fronted case of small, colourful sculptures made of butter mixed with barley flour. To the right of this case are three large statues. From the left, they are Maitreya (the Future Buddha or Buddha of Compassion), Padme Sambhava and Dorje Takposal (a manifestation of Padme Sambhava). The other walls are newly painted with depiction of guardian divinities done by the same Ladakhi artist who painted the topmost temple in Chemre. Across the central courtyard from the Dukhang and behind a low wall is the gompa's kitchen. It is interesting chiefly for its location under the overhanging rock face.

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