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Lhalung Monastery, Spiti

Built in- 10th century

Built by- Rinchen Zangpo, the ruler of western Himalayan territory of Guge

Highlight- One of the earliest monasteries in Spiti

One of the oldest monasteries in Spiti, Lhalung Monastery is also known as Sarkhang and Golden Temple. It was founded way back in 10th century CE by Rinchen Zangpo, the then ruker of western Himalayan region of Guge in the Spiti Valley.

In local language, the word ‘Lhalung’ means the ‘land of God’ and the locals have a belief that this Gompa was created in just 1 night by the Gods themselves. The presiding deity Lhalung is the chief deity of all the deities in the valley and rises from a mountain named Tangmar, which is away from the village. It is also said that the Tangmar Mountain changes its color. Sometimes it is yellow and sometimes it is red, pointing out the moods of the deities. Yellow denotes happiness and red means anger.

The monastery is also known as Golden temple due to the presence of several gold leafs that are kept here inside the temple. Also, there is another reason why it is Sarkhang. This sacred place has a wonderful inner chamber that has festooned walls where photographs pf around 50 deities are hung.

Architecture

The construction of the monastery is a like a fort, which looks similar to Tabo monastery. Earlier there were relic walls but with passage of time, the walls have crumbled down. The inner chamber was adorned with beautiful paintings but with time, the sheen has gone dull. In the starting, the monastery was also seen as the site of meditation and learning, but it is only for worship.

Inside Lhalung monastery, there is an old tree as well. Just outside the main temple is another white-colored shrine that has 4 images of Lord Buddga, facing to the 4 main directions. Several Buddhist relics can be found here.

Worship

The timing of worship in Lhalung monastery begins around 6 in the morning, which is done by the Buddhist priest and is also attended by the local villagers. This worship act also includes soothing chants. The monastery is open till 6’o clock in the evening.