Tsuglagkhang Complex

sights / Religious

Tsuglagkhang Complex information

Mcleod Ganj , India
Address
Street Temple Rd
Extras Central Chapel
Opening hours
5am-8pm
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Lonely Planet review

The main focus of visiting pilgrims, monks and many tourists is the Tsuglagkhang, comprising the photrang (official residence) of the Dalai Lama, the Namgyal Gompa, Tibet Museum and the Tsuglagkhang itself.

The revered Tsuglagkhang is the exiles’ concrete equivalent of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. Sacred to Avalokitesvara (Chenrezig in Tibetan), the Tibetan deity of compassion, it enshrines a 3m-high gilded statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha, flanked by Avalokitesvara and Padmasambhava, the Indian scholar who introduced Buddhism to Tibet. The Avalokitesvara statue contains several relics rescued from the Jokhang Temple during the Cultural Revolution.

Before visiting the main chapel, pilgrims first visit the Kalachakra Temple , built in 1992, which contains mesmerising murals of the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) mandala, specifically linked to Avalokitesvara, of whom the Dalai Lama is a manifestation. Sand mandalas are created here annually on the fifth day of the third Tibetan month. Photography is allowed in the Tsuglagkhang, but not in the Kalachakra Temple. Note that during teachings, cameras, mobile phones, cigarettes and lighters are not permitted in the temple.

The remaining buildings form the Namgyal Gompa , where you can watch monks debate most afternoons (not Sunday), driving their points home with a theatrical clap of the hands.

Just inside the main entry gate is the Tibet Museum , telling the story of the Chinese occupation and the subsequent Tibetan exodus, through photographs, interviews and video clips. A visit here is a must. Documentaries (₹10) are shown daily at 3pm.

Most Tibetan pilgrims make a clockwise kora (ritual circuit) of the outer Tsuglagkhang Complex. Take the downhill road to the left at the entrance to the temple and follow the winding path leading off to the right. The 20-minute walk passes through forest draped with prayer flags before climbing back onto Temple Rd.