The Rimpoche or siritual head of Hemis
is a reincarnation of the monastery's founder Stagshang Raspa. The
last Rimpoche was a reincarnation who, as a five year old child,
was being taught in Tibet when the Chinese invaded. There has been
no communication with the Rimpoche since the 1960's. Since then,
the brother of the late Kind of Ladakh has conducted the business
of the gompa. During the 1975 festival, Drugpa Rimpoche, a 12 year
old youth, became the new Rimpoche as a new incarnation.
As one enters the courtyard, to the right are two large temples
up small flight of stone steps. The fronts have a wooden verandah
of Kashmiri style, rising two storeys. As one faces them, the temple
on the left is the Tshogs-khang and on the right is the Dukhang.
The Dukhang contains the throne of the Rimpoche and seating areas
for the lamas. It is here that religious ceremonies are held. Tall
wooden pillars rise in the center to a square cupola with windows
that supply light to the throne. The walls also have paintings of
Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha) with the blue hair, other Buddha
figures and paintings of Tantric deities such as Hevajra and Samvara.
In the Tshogs-khang is a large gilded statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha
with blue hair surrounded by several silver chortens decorated with
semi-precious stones. In front of the Buddha is a throne made of
painted and lacquered wood, a present from the former Maharaja of
Kashmir to a former Incarnate Lama of Hemis. On the right is a collection
of Buddhist canonical volumes.
To the side of the Tshogs-khang, a stone staircase leads up to
a large roof covering both this temple and the Dukhang. At the top
of the stairs and to the left is Tsom-khang temple, which contains
an image of Hemis' founder, Stagshang Raspa, by the side of a large
gild and silver chorten containing his relics. Diagonally opposite,
up a flight of stairs and over the roof of the Tshogs-khang are
the private apartments of the head lama, and a small chapel.