Day 9: Lo Manthang
Trip Start Oct 13, 2010
69Trip End Mar 08, 2011
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The next monastery we visited was the three story Jampa Lhakhang which was built in 1447-48, but local tradition dates it to 1387. Inside the temple is a huge 15 meter tall clay statue of the future Buddha that is seated on the ground floor and reaches up through an opening in the second floor. The walls of this temple are about 1.6 meters thick and painted with large elaborate mandalas that are incredibly detailed, and rank as some of the finest in all the Tibetan world. When looking closely with the flash light we could see the real silver and gold paint used to highlight the intricate paintings. It's a shame that photography isn't allowed, but we learned the main reason is to limit interest in the statues and paintings among collectors of stolen art. We were then shown to the third level which has more mandalas and a ladder to the roof. From the roof we could see over the city to the hills beyond, which were being lightly dusted with snow. It was very windy and cold, but beautiful.
The third monastery we visited was the 15th century Thubchen Gompa, near the center of the city. To enter we passed through a hall which had 4 huge scowling statues of the four Lokapapa: the protectors of the cardinal points of the compass. They were definitely intimidating. When they open the doors and we step into the dark hall we can see immediately that it is massive. The ceiling is supported by 35 huge wooden columns, each half a meter in diameter and maybe 10 meters tall. There are statues of Buddha surrounded by various other gods, each covered in bronze and washed in gold. The massive wall to the right of the temple has recently been rebuilt as the previous one was severely damaged by an earthquake and years of water damage from a leaky roof. The opposite wall is still the original and is covered with many vibrant murals which are in the process of being restored.
It was a blistery cold day so we headed back to the teahouse and played cards again. This time with bets of 5 rupees. It made the game more interesting. We also ordered some dried yak meat as a snack and soon the playing cards had little oil stains on them. The yak was delicious, chewy and crunchy in parts, having been fried in oil with spices and garlic. Later in the afternoon Simon headed out to take some photos, because the sun was peeking through the dark storm clouds and it looked amazing. It was nice having a couple days to rest our legs, because heading back we would go faster and farther each day than before, to try and return before our permit ran out. As it was we were already adding a day because of being sick in Kagbeni. But Dipesh had a plan to try and work around the extra fee, if it was possible. That night we played more cards, had a good dinner, got my water bottle filled and headed to bed, mentally preparing for the long day of trekking ahead of us.