Upper Mustang 上幕斯唐 4 - Tsarang, Lo-Gekar’s Padmasambhava Monastery, Luri Cave Monastery

Mustang map 440-mustangmap Mustang%2000%2001%20Mustang%20Trek%20Route%20From%20Google%20Earth
It’s so hard to find a good online map of Upper Mustang. One is missing places, one is completely letting go of being proportionally referable. Anyway, after leaving Kagbeni(2800m) and heading towards the north, you will pass by Tangbe, Chuksang, Tsaile (3050m), Samar(3660m), Syangmochen(3820m), Ghilling(Gerlong in Tibetan), Ghemi(3490m) and reach Tsarang(3650m), the old capital of Mustang. For the locals, typical trip by horse is to stay a night in Ghami and then Lo-Manthang(3720m) on the 2nd day; they can also do Jomsom-Lo Manthang within a day if really needed, ~17 hours ride. For tourists, it’s recommended to break the trip into 3 days, i.e. one night at Samar and then Ghami or Tsarang. Both Samar and Ghemi has a good guesthouse, didn’t see any in Ghilling, Tsarang plenty. 很難找到好的地圖,不是缺東缺西,就是不成比例。總之,從卡貝尼(2800m)進入上幕斯唐往北走,會陸續經過湯貝、裘桑、才立(3050m)、薩瑪(3660m)、香嫫晨(3820m)、吉凌(藏人一般稱”給巄”)、給密(3490m)然後到達幕斯唐的舊都:擦壤Tsarang(3620m)。當地人騎馬通常是從Jomsom到給密停一晚,再往北走,真的趕路的話也有人當天可以到Lo-Manthang的,不過那要騎上17個小時。觀光客的話,建議在薩瑪停一晚,再翻個山到給密停一晚,再到Lo。薩瑪和給密都有住的不錯的旅館,吉淩比較沒看到什麽可住的地方,到了擦壤和現在的首都Lo-Manthang就到處是住處了。

Tsarang (3650m)

“The name Tsarang is derived from the Tibetan word Chaptrun Tsetrang (cock’s crest), the crest being the narrow rocky ridge upon which the castle stands. The village is incredibly rich in cultural heritage as it harbors numerous huge and ancient Chhortens and Mahnes (mani). The huge Chhorten gate (24 ft. high) roses starkly in contrast to the crumbling palace in the background. Narrow streets punctuate adobe houses, their roofs stacked with precious firewood. Most of the houses have a chapel housing the family shrine, ritual objects and sacred texts. Tsarang is a well-watered and a far greener place of Lo Tsho Dyun, with gardens and neat white washed houses and thriving Populus and Salix trees. It is a maze of field and houses separated by stonewalls at the top of the large Tsarang Chu Canyon. The huge, five storied, white Dzong (Tibetan style fortress) and red monastery are perched on the edge of the Kali Gandaki gorge at the eastern end of the village.

In the past, Tibetan salt from distant lakes north of the Tsangpo river, was bartered with wheat, barley and rice grown in the fertile southern valleys of Pokara and the areas around. Traders from Tsarang  to travel with herds of Yak, Dzo, goats and even sheep carrying grain to the centers on the Tibetan frontier. Ekai Kawaguchi, a Japanese monk stayed for 9 months here on his way to Tibet in 1899. The inhabitants of Tsarang are Bhotias (posses surname Bista, Gurung, and Biswakarma). They are also called Lobas (people of Lo). The population of the village is about 400 living in 83 households. The economy is mainly based on agriculture, livestock husbandry and seasonal migration during the winter season for business.”


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  • Tsarang Monastery

Thupten Shad Druo Darkeling Gompa (aka. Thupten Shedrub Dhargyeling Monastery) belongs to Ngor-pa sub-sect of the Sakya school in Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is situated at an astounding location, built in 1427 by the Three Sangbos: Ngorchen Kunga Sangbo, the founding abbot of Ngorpa from Tibet; Chhyogel Ame Pal Sangbo, the first king of Lo; Kalten Chhewang, minister of Ame Pal. Ngorchen visited Lo region three times: 1427, 1436 and 1447 and he built this monastery during his first visit. At that time, Amepal offered Ngorchen a big land for farming to support thpisands monks. Within the monastery boundary, the main monastery included living qurters for the monks. This shrine depicts images of Sakyamuni, Meitreya, Dorje Midukpa, Abbot Ngorchen Kunga Sangpo and other deities along with 15th century frescoes of extraordinary details. It contains priceless collections of Thangkas and also the throne of Ngorchen, which may be the only one left intact in the world. It is believed that Tibetan Buddhism flourished in Mustang from this monastery.
廟屬於藏傳佛教薩迦派支派哦巴,座落在雄偉的峭壁上,村莊的最高處。由幕斯唐三聖於1427年所建:也就是哦巴創始堪布貢嘎桑波,建立幕斯唐王國的Ame Pal 國王, 和他亦對建立佛教不遺餘力的大臣Kalten。哦千大堪布在1427, 1436, 1447年三次前來幕斯唐地區,當時虔誠的國王供養了很大的土地以及金錢,以支持出家僧衆的生活,廟裏也建有上千名僧人的生活區域。廟裏有非常珍貴的唐卡,15世紀的精緻壁畫,以及當年哦千堪布的法座。藏傳佛教據信是在這座寺廟建立之後才在幕斯唐地區蓬勃發展。
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  • Tsarang Palace

Samdub Ghephel Palace is a five storied place built in ~1400 by the same three sangbos building the Tsarang monastery. The palace is located on a rocky hill near the monastery’s shadow. It’s said that the Queen of Ladhakh brought a statue of Buddha Jhowo made of sandalwood as a bridal gift when marring with with the king of Lo. The palace has 108 volumes of Kangyur texts inscribed in gold and another sacred Tibetan texts Ghetongba. Although uninhabited for the past 65 years, it is redolent with reminders of a bygone age. This was once the greatest library in Lo, and still has a superb collection of sacred text, their volumes kept between intricately carved covers and in one case inscribed entirely in golden leaf. This is the most beautiful texts I have ever seen, and what is really touching is that the villagers still arrange monks/nuns to recite this Kangyur once a year. In contrast, the armory boasts a rather bedraggled collection of weapons. A human hand is also displayed, believed to be the master builder’s. The image of Avalokiteshvara is housed in the golden chapel inside the Raja’s fort in Tsarang. It is said a small replica is also found in Lhasa’s Potala Palace. This manifestation of Avalokiteshvara was the tutelary deity of king Sangsten Gompo who unified Tibet in the 7th century.
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Lo-Ghekar: Gar Gompa

Gar Gompa is one of the oldest gompa in the region, which stands solitarily on a hill between Tsarang and Lo-Manthang.  Dating from the latter part of the 8th century, it was built by Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. According to legends, the site became a holy place when a spring bubbled up where the saint’s tears fell. it is also believed that this monastery was constructed in order to avert obstacles created by demons in the construction of Samye Monastery in Lhasa. Padmasambhava visited this monastery and hid some texts (Terma) to be rediscovered by appropriate teachers later. Constructed over a shrine, it’s five rooms are decorated with intricate wall carvings, the best in Mustang, which have been maintained well with vivid colors, including Buddha images, 21 Taras etc. Inside the shrine, in addition to the Padmasambhava and some other deity statues, on the left wall closer to the ground, there is a self-arising Tara image.

This takes 3 hours walk or ~2 hour horse ride from Tsarang. No accommodation here.


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Luri Gompa (4005m)

Luri Ghang Gompa is the most extraordinary cave monastery in the region tucked high into the cliffs near Ghara village. It is situated inside a cave with numerous delicate frescoes. Being built before the 15th century, the front wall eroded but inside the cave, it remains as one of Mustang’s most tantalizing mysteries. It has a huge stupa inside the cave. Luri is unique as no other Chhorten of this age and quality have existed in man made caves. It houses many images and statues of Guru Rinpoche…Surrounded by sharp tapering cliffs, the meadow below is cast upon a bizarre shadow. Access is intricate as one has to walk trails on eroded landscape climbing uphill and crossing gorges spanned by bridges made of tree trunks. The entrance to the chapel is lead by a man made tunnel leading to an old ladder. Only two of the interconnecting chambers remain intact nowadays. The first has the orientation of a traditional Tibetan chapel with an alter, statues and Thankas. Beyond is a domed shrine room, filled so completely by a large Chhorten that only a narrow path way remains for pilgrims/visitors to walk around. Every available surface on the Chhorten is white washed and decorate with frescoes. The walls around the Chhorten is also beautifully painted.

It takes 4-5 hours walk from Tsarang, so only possible on horse for a day trip. Alternatively, what I did is visiting Luri after Lo-Manthang, stay a night in Dhi. The key was held by a teacher teaching kids in another small monastery below the Gompa. Anyway, it’s always wise to hire a local person so that they can help figure out how to get hold of the key.


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One Response to Upper Mustang 上幕斯唐 4 - Tsarang, Lo-Gekar’s Padmasambhava Monastery, Luri Cave Monastery

  1. 引用通告: 《三根本合修》和幕思唐的莲師寺 / Tsa Sum Dril Drub and Gehkar Monastery « bella.chao



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