Temples in Lubrak

Village women praying in Phuntsoling Gompa

Map of North Nepal
Gongphu Gompa

Map of North Nepal
Lama Yungdung Gyaltsen and Geshe Gelek
bless the villagers in Phuntsoling Gompa

Map of North Nepal
Dancers offers butter lamps to the divinities
during the Dögyab ceremony in Phuntsoling Gompa

Lubrak has been an important site for religious practice for centuries. The two main temples in the village – Gongphu Gompa and Yungdrung Phuntsoling Gompa - each have a very different function in Lubrak’s complex religious life. There are also a further three private temples within the village that belong to individual households. In the vicinity of Lubrak, there are a number of caves that are regularly used for meditative retreats, including one that is used for dark retreats.

Upon entering the village, one must first pass a substantial Bön stupa, circumambulating it in a counter-clockwise manner, as is the custom of the Bönpos. Just beyond the stupa is a vast and ancient walnut tree, said to have been miraculously planted by the village’s founder in the 12th century, its wood still occasionally used for making sacred ritual objects.

Gongphu Gompa

Founded in the early part of the 12th century, Gongphu Gompa (‘The Temple of the High Cave’) is one of the oldest sacred sites in the entire Mustang region. It sits high on a bare hill, overlooking Lubrak village and the surrounding valleys. Its isolated position suits its purpose well - the temple was built over the cave where Lubrak’s founder, the Bön master, Tashi Gyaltsen, had meditated for nine years, nine months and nine days. Legend has it that, as a miraculous sign of his spiritual achievements, a ridge appeared in the rock wall above the cave to mark each year that he spent in retreat. After the completion of his retreat, a small temple was built to commemorate his achievement, and was given the name Gongphu Gompa. Over the centuries, Bönpo practitioners had sought out this this site to follow in the path of this great master.

Restoration of Gongphu Gompa
By the 1990s, the monastery had become increasingly dilapidated and following the collapse of the monastery’s roof, the impoverished villagers reached out for international assistance. With initial funding from the Danish Embassy in Kathmandu, the monastery was renovated. In 2003, funding from the Kalpa Group enabled wooden floors and retreat cells to be added, and the interior walls decorated with a narrative painting of the history and mythology of the village. This remote monastery, long abandoned but for the visits of devout villagers and pilgrims from distant corners of Tibet, has again become an active centre for retreat and meditation.

Yungdrung Phuntsoling Gompa

The village temple of Phuntsoling was founded in 1846. It was sponsored by Karu Druwang Tenzin Rinchen, who was born in eastern Tibet in 1801 and later developed close links with Lubrak. It is now used as the main temple for the performance of ceremonies by the village lamas, of which there are about twenty each year. Some of the murals are contemporary with the building, but most were repainted during the 1960s by an artist from southern Mustang. The sculpted images include figures of some of the main Bön divinities, as well as eminent lamas from Lubrak. Located in the centre of the village, the Gompa also acts as the main village community meeting hall.