Tak Thok gompa is situated some
10 km further up from Chemre gompa in the Chemre Valley. The name
Tak Thok in Lladakhi means "Rock Rood" and refers to the
cave chapel found in this unusual gompa. The Rimpoche of Tak Thok
is from Tibet and is highly respected by Ladakhis. The gompa houses
about 55 lamas of the Nying-ma-pa sect of Buddhism, also known as
the "Old Order". Members of this sect are followers of
Padme Sambhava's teachings and Tak Thok is the only gompa in Ladakkh
that follows this order. Entering the main courtyard, one is immediately
struck by the rock outcroppings that surround the gompa. Indeed,
the wooden front of the chapel is only a front for the cave behind
it and most of the gompa consists of rooms hollowed out of the stone
cliff by nature or man. The cave chapel is to the left as one enters
the central courtyard. A small anteroom to the cave chapel has been
recently painted with the Guardian Divinities of the Four Directions.
In the front of the cave chapel are images of Padme Sambhava and
Avalokitesvara. Behind this image is a small locked door leading
to the small cave where Padme Sambhava is supposed to have lived
and meditated for three years. This cave is not open to the public.
The low roof of the chapel is the stone of the cliff. Leaving the
cave ahapel, go up a flight of stairs and on the right will be the
Kandshur Lhakhang. The Kandshur is the 108 volumes of Buddha's teachings
and a complete set of this important religious work is found in
this temple. There are also statues of Sakyamuni (the Historical
Buddha) with his two chief disciples by his side. The walls are
decorated with murals of guardian divinities. Opposite the Kandshur
Lhakhang and to the left is a small chapel containing religious
books and four Buddha statues.
Returning to the central courtyard, the Dukhang
or main assembly hall will be on the right (the same side as the
courtyard entrance). The verandah entrance to the Dukhang has beautiful
new murals of guardian divinities. These murals are covered by cloth
all year, except during the gompa's festival, in order to preserve
their color but just lift the cloth up to admire the workmanship.
In the Dukhang are several rows of low seats for the lamas. Opposite
the entrance is a throne seat reserved solely for the Dalai Lama.
To the left of this throne seat is a wall painting of Padme Shambhava
and on the right is a painting of Sakyamuni. On the right wall towards
the front is a glass-fronted case of small, colorful sculptures
made of butter mixed with barley flour. To the right of this case
are three large statues of Maitreya (the Future Buddha or Buddha
of Compassion). Padme Sambhava and Dorje Takposal (a manifestation
of Padme Sambhava). The other walls are newly painted with depictions
of guardian divinities done by the same Ladakhi artist who painted
the topmost temple in Chemre. Across the central courtyard of the
Dukhang are behind a low wall is the gompa's kitchen, interesting
mainly for its location under the overhanging rock-face.