Sankar gompa is a subsidiary of Spitok,
having the same head lama. Sankar is easily visited on foot from
Leh, lying as it does in Leh's suburbs. The gompa is 90 years old
but is located on the site of a small temple that was built some
500 years ago. About 25 lamas of the yellow-hat sect are attached
to Sankar gompa but only a few live here permanently. Thus it is
only open to the public from 7 to 10 am and from 5 to 7 pm. From
the street one enters the gompa's front yard. To the right are a
few steps climbing up to the double doors that open onto the Dukhang.
The entrance porch has paintings of the Guardian of the Four Directions
on either side of the entry door. On the left wall of the verandah
is a "Wheel of Life" held by Yama, the deity that determines
a person's future fate after death. The right verandah wall depicts
the Old Man of Long Life. The Dukhang's side walls have new paintings
of various Buddhas, while guardian divinities appear on either side
of the entrance hall. In the Dukhang opposite the entrance is a
throne reserved for the gompa's head lama. To the left of the throne
are colorful butter sculptures made by mixing butter and barley
flour. Further to the left is a glass-fronted case containing the
image of Yamadhaka, a fierce guardian divinity.
To the right of the throne is an image
of Avalokitesvara with 1000 arms and 11 heads. Avalokitesvara is
also known as the "Lord of All He Surveys" and is believed
to be reincarnated in the Dalai Lama. On either side of the throne
seat are doors to a small chapel. The central image is of Tsong-kha-pa,
founder of the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism and his two chief disciples.
Below the disciples are images of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha)
on either side of Tsong-kha-pa. To the left is an image of Avalokitesvara,
again with 1,000 arms and 11 heads (nine Bodhisattva heads, one
head angry at the suffering in the world and a Buddha head on top).
To the right is a case containing Tibetan bronzes. Against the right
wall is a White Guardian and a mandala of Amchi (the Buddha of Medicine).
Exiting the Dukhang, turn left, go through a door and up one flight
of steps. Immediately on the left is a door leading into a small
inner courtyard. The walls of this courtyard are painted with the
Tibetan calendar (which resembles a large chessboard) and murals
depicting the proper way for lamas to live. A long mural across
the top of one side of the courtyard shows Sakyamuni (the Historical
Buddha) in the middle flanked by his two chief disciples. On the
far right of this mural is Tsong-kha-pa and on the far left is Atisa,
an Indian Buddhist and teacher of Buddhism in Tibet. Diagonally
opposite the door entering into this courtyard is the entrance to
the Dukar Lokhang, a small temple devoted to the deity Dukar. The
main image is a very imposing statue of Dukar, inset with turquoise
and shown with 1,000 arms, 1,000feet, 1,000heads, and 100,000 eyes.
Numerous bangle bracelets have been left as offerings by women devotees
at the feet of this deity. To the left of the Dukar is a case containing
various bronze images. On the right is a statue of Maitreya (the
Buddha of the Future) and another case of bronze statues. Directly
over the front porch of the gompa is the Kandshur, the 108 vloumes
of Buddha's teachings and images of the Three Buddhas - Sakyamuni
(the Post Buddha), the Present Buddha and Maitreya (the Future Buddha).