The Watch

Guru Lhakhang and Sumda Chun Temples

Leh, India

2006 World Monuments Watch

The eleventh-century Tibetan translator of Buddhist texts, Rinchen Tsangpo, who brought Buddhism to the Western Himalaya, is credited with founding 108 temples in the region. Of these, five have survived, including Sumda Chun and Guru Lhakhang, both of which are still in use. Built of mudbrick and timber, each temple houses an extraordinary mural cycle. Guru Lhakhang, perched on a hillside overlooking the Phiyang monastery, was built in the late thirteenth century, while the twelfth-century Sumda Chun is one of the most significant early temples in Ladakh. Although Sumda Chun’s main hall and side chapels have survived, the adjacent monastery collapsed during heavy rains in 1997. Last update: December 2010

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