Location and Layout
The main temple at ChupzangChu bzang.
The phrase chupzangchu bzang means “good waters,” indicating that this was probably the site of a spring in former times. Chupzang Nunnery is located in the foothills of the northern section of the suburb of NyangdrenNyang bran, directly north of LhasaLha sa and northwest of SeraSe ra. It takes about forty minutes to walk from SeraSe ra to ChupzangChu bzang. The hermitage (ritröri khrod) faces south in the direction of LhasaLha sa.
The site can be divided into three major areas:
- Farthest north (and uphill) one finds a field of stūpas and large boulders with carvings or self-arisen images (rangjönrang byon).
- Directly below (south of) the field of stūpas in the northernmost area of the hermitage are the main temple complex, the dharma courtyard (chörachos rwa), and the secondary temple.
- Below the temples, farther south on the hillside is the residential (and by far the largest) area of the nunnery that contains dozens of private nuns’ huts.
The two temple complexes are located just below the stūpa field. These are:
The interior of the main temple.
- The upper (main) temple,1 where the nuns gather for communal rituals. To the left of the main temple there is a small butter-lamp offering house (chömé khangchos me khang, built in 2004), and a kiosk where tourists and pilgrims can buy snacks and religious memorabilia. The main temple has a two-wheel mani [wheel] temple (mani lhakhangma ṇi lha khang) at its southwest corner (access to which is from outside the temple). The principal figures on the main altar of the assembly hall (dukhang’du khang) are TsongkhapaTsong kha pa (1357-1419) and his two disciples. At the northwest corner of the temple (entrance through the assembly hall) there is a protector deity chapel (gönkhangmgon khang) that contains a small statue of NechungGnas chung, as well as statues of LhamoLha mo, Six-Armed Mahākāla (Gönpo ChakdrukMgon po phyag drug), Dharmarāja (Damchen ChögyelDam chen chos rgyal), Dorjé YudrönmaRdo rje g.yu sgron ma, and of the two tutelary deities (yidamyi dam) of the nunnery, Vajrabhairava (Dorjé JikjéRdo rje ’jigs byed) and Vajrayoginī (Dorjé NeljormaRdo rje rnal ’byor ma).
- West of the main temple complex one finds the dharma enclosure (chörachos rwa), an area where nuns sit when they want to memorize texts outdoors. Inside this courtyard there is also a small chapel to the protector deity Dorjé YudrönmaRdo rje g.yu sgron ma.
- The reception room and the secondary (Stone Buddha) temple – located south (downhill) from the dharma enclosure – share a courtyard. This temple contains the stone image (dokurdo sku) of the Buddha said to have been “discovered as treasure” (terné tönpagter nas ston pa) by the Fifth Dalai Lama.
- The Buddha
- The Medicine Buddha (MenlaSman bla)
- The Fifth Dalai Lama (Dalai Lama Kutreng NgapaDa lai bla ma sku phreng lnga pa, 1617-1682)