My previous visit to Chemde Gompa last year was a mixed experience. Without doubt it is in one of the post picturesque settings imaginable, with its buildings straddling a pyramidal hill I imagine few tourists can resist stopping on the approach to capture the view. I am no exception 🙂
But my first visit here was a slight disappointment as I didn’t find many of the temples open, nor did I come across a single monk that might be able to assist me. The entire gompa was deserted, so I left knowing there was unfinished business here.
Luck was on my side this time around, in fact somewhat bizarrely everywhere that was shut last year was now unlocked, and the one temple I did see previously, the Guru Lhakhang, was locked ! So this blog post very much completes the picture of Chemde Gompa.
The highlight for me (from both visits) was the now unlocked Lama Lhakhang. It’s a hugely atmospheric shrine dedicated to the Drupka lineage of lamas.
Seated on ceremonial thrones are the high lamas Thosthob Chosje, Duwang Rimpoche, Tsokyes Dorje and Stag-tsang Ras-pa.
Facing them on the opposite side of the room are a collection of divinities, dominated by a statue of Avalokiteswara with 1,000 arms.
The entire room is covered with what appear to be quite ancient murals, especially he ones nearest the door.
I sometimes find it difficult to explore gompas when there’s nobody around. I get the sense that I’m perhaps intruding more than I should be, although on the occasions when I have met someone else they have never been anything but friendly and welcoming. So being slightly braver than I was a year ago, I explored beyond Lama Lhakhang finding another more modern temple, as well as a room that seemed to be housing some of their scriptures.
Here I also came across something I have seen at a few gompas in the region. A mummified sheep or goat hanging from the ceiling or wall. I’ve tried to find out what significance this has, without any luck. I’d really appreciate anyone who knows commenting below !
I spent about an hour at Chemde Gompa this time around, and as before I didn’t meet a single soul, I have no idea where the 100 or so lamas that reside here were. The place seemed utterly deserted.
Chembe is about 45km east of Leh, a visit could be combined with Hemis Gompa and Thag-Thok (Tak Tok) Gompa. It is also on the route from Leh to Pangong Tso, so is potentially a good place to stop after about an hour into your journey.
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