Jampa/Jampey Lhakhang

Jampa lhakhang is a walled one-storey low complex built on a plateau above the river Chamkhar. It is one km south of Kuje monastic complex and four kilometers north of the district headquarter. Like any ancient temple in the Tibetan cultural area, the main sanctuary consisted of a small central shrine with a circumambulation path.  It was enclosed and surrounded by other temples which were built at the turn of the 20th century forming an inner courtyard. Four chortens (stupa), each of a different color are built at the corners of the enclosure.

Like Kyichu Lhakhang in the Paro valley (see page 131), this temple is said to be the first that King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet constructed in Bhutan in the seventhCentury. It is one of the 108 temples built by him throughout Tibet and theHimalayas to overcome a giant demoness. While Kyichu Lhakhang was erected on the demoness’s left foot, and was one of the temples built ‘to subjugate regions beyond the frontiers’, Jampa Lhakhang was placed on the left knee and was one of the temples built ‘to subjugate the frontiers’. When Guru Rinpoche came to Bhutan, it is said that he preached the teachings of the Kagye cycle to King Sendhaka and his court from the roof of the temple. In addition to the main sanctuary containing the statue of Jampa, four more sanctuaries were added after the middle of the 19th century, creating a closed courtyard in front of the main sanctuary. The exact dates of the founding and restoration of the different sanctuaries arenot clear, except that the whole complex was partially restored by Ugyen Wangchuk’s brother-in-law, the Jakar Dzongpon, Chime Dorje, in 1905. Outside the temple, a long building was erected in 1999 to serve as an assembly place during the great annual prayer (Monlam  Chenmo) instituted that year, and it is in front of this building that, in the autumn,  the Jampa lhakhang festival (Grub/Drup) takes place. More buildings were added in 2005.

Architectural style / school and related art works
The central shrine contains an inner sanctum with a large statue of Maitreya, framed on either side by Four Bodhisattvas. These clay statues are makeable and probably very ancient. On one side of the doorway leading into the main shrine there is a painting of the historical Buddha and, on the other, a painting of the Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche. The circumambulation path walls are covered with paintings of the Thousand Buddhas and ornate by a long row of prayer wheels.

The sanctuary of Duki khorlo, or Dukhor (Kalacakra), is on the right of the main Sanctuary forming the right side of the courtyard (north). It was built by Jigme Namgyal or his son Ugyen Wangchuk at the end of the 19th century. Kalacakra, the Wheel of Time, is considered to be the most complex of the cycles of Tantric teachings, and is the one most recently propagated. According to Himalayan tradition, it was preached by Buddha and then kept secret for several centuries in the fabled kingdom of Shambala. After reappearing in India around AD 966, it was introduced into Tibet in 1026. The deity who symbolizes Kalacakra is colored dark blue, with 32 arms, oneyellow leg and one red leg. He is in sexual embrace with his consort, who is orange. The temple’s main image represents this deity and the smaller statues represent his entourage. The splendid paintings devoted to the Karling Shitro cycle are of ‘the peaceful and terrifying deities according to Karma Lingpa’ who appear in the intermediary state between death and rebirth. The Gonkhang is situated near the Dukhor sanctuary is never open for visits.

The Chorten Lhakhang (north) is in an extension of the Dukikhorlo Lhakhang. It was built by Ashi Wangmo, the present King’s great grand-aunt, who became a nun of the Karmapa school. This temple is dedicated to the 1st Benchey Lama, a reincarnation of the Karmapa school who died around 1940 and was one of the Wangchuck family’s chaplains. His chorten is in the middle of the temple. On the right-hand wall there is a painting of the lineage of the Karmapas, and the left wall depicts the Thirty-Five Buddhas of Confession.

The Guru Lhakhang forms the left side of the courtyard (south). It was founded by the Jakar Dzongpon, Tsondru Gyeltsen, in the middle of the 19th century. The main statue is of Guru Rinpoche flanked by images of Avalokiteshvara and Amitayus, the Buddha of long life. On the wall to the right are the Twenty-One Taras. On the left-hand wall are Avalokiteshvara with a thousand eyes and a thousand hands, and Sukhavati—the Western Heaven of the Buddha of infinite light Amitabha. On the right of the window there is a painting of the great master Pema Lingpa and, on the left, the protective deity Gonpo Maning (one aspect of Mahakala).

The Sangye Lhakhang is above the complex main entrance (east). This ‘temple of Buddhas’ was founded by the 2nd King, Jigme Wangchuck. The main statues represent the Buddhas of the Seven Ages. The wall on the right depicts the esoteric cycle of the Gondu. On the left are Guru Rinpoche and his Eight Manifestations, Avalokiteshvara and the Medicine Buddhas whose principal figure is dark blue, holding a myrobolan fruit (Terminalia Chebula) in his hand.

Social cultural function
A caretaker from the state monastic community of Trongsa dzong looks after the temple, usually for a period of three to five years. The temple is an important pilgrimage place for the Bhutanese and people from all over the Buddhist Himalayas. It is also a daily place of worship for the villagers in its vicinity. The great prayer Monlam chenmo is an important date in the calendar of Bumthang and see hundreds of people gathering every day for one week. The high point of the year is the festival Drup/grub which takes place from the 15th to the 19th of the 9th Bhutanese month. Thousands of people from all over Bumthang and beyond come to watch the religious dances and buy all kinds of things at the fair. Numerous tourists now join them.

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