Introduction Jampa Thubchen Luri
Geographical Information
Getting to Lo monthang
Site Index


In present-day Nepal, Lo Monthang is a backwater, a comparativly very small and insignificant town, yet it is the home of two magnificent gompas, Thubchen and Jampa, located barely a hundred yards apart and dating to the fifteenth century. The effect may be compared to that of a French or Italian provincial town with not one but two medieval cathedrals. In March, 1996, Thubchen and Jampa were listed in the World Monuments Fund's first annual Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites, representing the world's cultural heritage. In eastern Mustang, the isolated cave gompa of Luri, probably of even earlier date, is also decorated with important paintings. There are other important sites in Mustang as well, including the gompas of Tsarang and Lo Gekar.

The Mustang paintings are of inestimable value and significance; among the world's finest Buddhist wall paintings, they are rare surviving exemplars of the classical period of Tibetan Buddhist art. Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and during the subsequent Cultural Revolution, Tibet's culture was subjected to massive and brutal assault. The destruction of temples and monasteries was wholesale; from one end of Tibet's vast expanse to the other, sacred statues were smashed, murals defaced or obliterated, and entire monasteries razed, in a deliberate attempt to destroy an entire culture. Fortunately, the Tibetan cultural world and its sphere of influence extends beyond the borders of Tibet, into Bhutan and Sikkim, bordering regions of Nepal and India, and Mongolia. Although it is now part of Nepal, Mustang was formerly a small, independent Tibetan kingdom; it appears on the map as a thumb-shaped protrusion, breaking through the Himalayan wall into Tibet.

Note: In this text, instead of diacritic (accent) marks to indicate the pronunciation of the palatal Sanskrit sibilant "s," we use the digraph "sh": e.g., Shakyamuni, Shiva, etc.

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