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Tholing Monastery, Zanda County

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Tholing Monastery is the oldest monastery in the Ngari Prefecture of western Tibet. It is situated in Tholing, Zanda County, near the Indian border of Ladakh. It was built in 997 AD by Yeshe-Ö, the second King of the Guge Kingdom. In Tibetan language 'Tholing' means "hovering in the sky forever" and is reflected by the location of the monastery at an elevation of. The complex includes three temples, the Yeshe-O Temple, the Lhakhang Karpo and the Dukhang. There are many ancient, precious, and well-preserved frescoes.GeographyThe monastery is located in remote badlands of far western Tibet in Zanda County. It perches on an escarpment in the Grand Canyon along the Langchen Tsangpo (designated as Sutlej River, meaning "elephant river", in Tibet). It has a well laid out street, post office and telecommunication facilities. The isolated military installation of Zanda is nearby. Tholing is east of Tsaparang, which is from Darchen.HistoryThe monastery is one of the first temples built at the start of the "second diffusion" of Buddhism in Tibet. It was built in 997 AD by King Yeshe-Ö, when Tholing was the capital of Guge. The king sponsored lay young men who would become noviciates of the monastery. For this purpose, he sponsored a fellowship for Rinchen Zangpo to travel to Kashmir and India to study and translate. He was one of 21 young monks who traveled to Vikramshila Mahavihara, a specialist institution in tantra, for training. Only two monks, Richen Zangpo and Lekpai Sherap, survived the severe climatic conditions, snake bites and diseases, and were able to return to Tibet. Rinchen Zangpo built three of the major temples at the monastery.
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  • The monastery and palace complex is partially restored. Large parts of the plant are not, because there still or not yet being restored. The finished areas are good, though, not to see but by special charisma. As a "Consolation prize", you should pass once the surrounding monastery wall on the north side through a small opening in the direction of Sutley. Then one is compensated with the prospect of a very long series of 108 (sacred number in Buddhism) in the fascinating Canyon of Sutley Chortens.
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  • Visited the monastery on Oct. 26th. Some parts are still under re-construction (restoration). Two of the Choerten (Stupa) are finished. It looks good but there are dozens of gompa that are more import...  more »
  • Unfortunately, we could visit only a small part of the monastery, because comprehensive restoration work in progress.
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