Tibet 2014 - Tholing Monastery

Tholing 10 September.

Leaving Tsaparang we drive back to Tholing past spectacular canyons and mysterious ruined forts or monasteries on the ridges above the hillsides. Still photos don’t manage to convey the complexity and labyrinthine nature of driving through the canyons. I should have taken a video but when you’re there you don’t really want the distraction of looking through any lens.

Back at Tholing it’s late afternoon but the monastery is still open. The old gate leads into a large walled enclosure and we follow a Tibetan woman through the heavy black yak wool curtains which cover the entrance to the first chapel, the actual entrance is like nothing we’ve seen - squat fat bellied colums support a fluid flattened arched portico, the whole painted in blues, yellows and apricot. An small inner courtyard leads away to the kitchens with their stone stoves and copper cooking vessels. We wander outside past low walls mounted with prayer wheels and pass into open courtyards with beautiful stupas painted in shades of pink, grey and white. An inner kora runs through narrower corridors between the red walled chapels.

There are some beautiful murals in the White Chapel which we just manage to photograph with a torch and iPhone. The largest building is the Mandala chapel but inside there is only the destruction from the Cultural Revolution. Statues of the Buddhas have been ripped from the walls leaving outlines of the spaces they occupied. Stupas have been levelled to stumps. All that remains is the remnants of a statue of a Boddhisattva and a lingering atmosphere.

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