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Tholing Monastery

Ngari Attractions 958

Tholing Monastery

Tholing Monastery is the oldest monastery in the Ngari Prefecture of western Tibet. It is situated in Tholing (Zanda), Zanda County, near the Indian border of Ladakh. It was built in 997 AD by Yeshe-Ö, the second King of the Guge Kingdom. In Tibetan language 'Tholing' means "hovering in the sky forever" and is reflected by the location of the monastery at an elevation of 12,400 feet (3,800 m). The complex includes three temples, the Yeshe-O Temple, the Lhakhang Karpo and the Dukhang. There are many ancient, precious, and well-preserved frescoes.

History of Tholing Monastery:

The monastery is one of the first temples built at the start of the "second diffusion" of Buddhism in Tibet. It was built in 997 AD by King Yeshe-Ö, when Tholing was the capital of Guge. The king sponsored lay young men who would become noviciates of the monastery.

Two chapels, dated to the fifteenth century, were used to store grains during the Cultural Revolution. Both have notable murals but those at Lakkhang Karpo are more prominent. Tholing became a portal to Tibet for Indian scholars to visit and spread religious-cultural ideas of Buddhism. Patronized by the king of Guge, this Buddhist monastery marked the evolution of ascetic Buddhism in Tibet, influenced by the Indian Buddhist scholars. In its time, the monastery was the most influential in the region. The influence of the Guge Kingdom, and the monastic center of Tholing came to be known in India from Kashmir to Assam.

The monastery became better known internationally, after Lama Govinda, a German Buddhist monk, accompanied by his wife, visited the monastery in 1948. He presented pictures of the monastery's decorations, statues and paintings to the outside world. In present day, the monastery is mostly in ruins. However, it still retains many images and scores of well-preserved murals which are made in the west Tibetan style.

In a recent report, it is recorded that the Inner Asian Art Style has been identified in the paintings discovered from the cave temples in Zanda of Ngari.I Architecture and fittings

The Tholing Monastery complex has many rectangular buildings. It is a walled complex facing east. Built of mud bricks, the style became the forerunner for similar temples built in the kingdom. There are portrait paintings of Tsong Khappa, Sakya Panchen and many Buddhist monks dated to 15th and 16th centuries. Ticket price: 50yuan

Opening hour: 8:00-19:00

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