The Spituk Gompa was founded in 11th century , the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub-od. The Gompa was named Spituk (exemplary) by Rinchen Zangpo, a translator came to that place and said that exemplary religious community would rise. Initially the Gompa was run according to the Kadampa school then during the reign of king Gragspa Bumide he converted it to Gayluk Pa order. Many icons of Buddha and 5 thangkas can be visited in this 15th century monastery. The Dukhang Hall is the largest building and has two rows of seats running the length of the walls to a throne at the far end. Sculptures and miniature chortens are displayed on the altar. There is also a collection of ancient masks, antique arms and fine thangkas. Higher up the hill is the Mahakal Temple, containing the shrine of Vajrabhairava. The terrifying face of Vajrabhairva is unveiled only at the annual festival in January. At that point of time, the Spitok Monastery of Leh Ladakh was under the Kadampa School. Slowly and gradually, as time passed, the monastery started functioning under Dharmaraja Takspa Bum – Lde Lama Lhawang Lotus. He brought about the restoration of Spituk and introduced the stainless order of Tsongkhapa (Gelukpa). Even today, the monastery functions under the Gelukpa order only. Three other monasteries of Ladakh, namely Stok, Sankar and Saboo, are considered to be the branches of Spituk Gompa. The Dukhang (main temple) also has a high throne at its far end, reserved for the Dalai Lama. The door beside this central throne leads to dark old chapel. The central images inside the chapel are those of Tsong-kha-pa, his two chief disciples and of the Buddha. Spituk Gompa also plays the host to the Gustor Festival, held every year. The festival takes place from the 27th to 29th day in the eleventh month of the Tibetan calendar. A sacred dance also forms a part of the celebrations. Along the long established trade routes through Tibet, Central Asia, Kashmir and the plains of northern India, came not only goods but also ideas. Despite its harsh terrain and remoteness from urban centres, Ladakh has long been a location where people, commerce and cultures intermingled and its art forms therefore reflect influences from many other places. Records and monographs left by European travelers – the first Europeans to reach Leh in 1631were the Portuguese priests Francisco de Azevedo and John de Oliveira. Then in 1820 the two Englishmen William Moorcroft and George Trebeck, who worked for the East India Company – they had come to Ladakh in the course of a journey to central Asia in search of horses for the East India Co – were kept in Leh for two years waiting for permission to go to Yarkand, and which was eventually denied them. It was during this two-year wait that they observed and wrote about life in Ladakh, trade, clothes, religion, etc.
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