Home :: Buddhist Gompas :: Hemis Gompa

Hemis Gompa was built in 1620 by the king-arcgutect Singe Namgyal, a great patron of Buddhism who filled Hemis with gold statues, stupas set with precious stones and thankas brought from many places including Tibet.

Hemis is the location for numerous religious festivals throughout the year, although the most important one is in summer. For many years Hemis was the only gompa in Ladhak with a major festival during the summer months. This fortuitous factor, for it is in the summer months that Ladakh is most accessible, has led to Hemis becoming the most widely known of the gompas in the region.

The lamas of Hemis were associated with the Ladakhi royal family and became quite prosperous, owning much land and and supervising many smaller scattered monasteries. Hemis is the wealthiest gompa in Ladakh and although only about a dozen lamas actually live here, it has several hundred lamas attached to its subsidiary monasteries.

Hemis Gompa

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.

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