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Gyantse  

Barry Till

[rgyal rtse; Gyangzê]

Fourth largest city in Tibet, strategically located between Lhasa and Shigatse along the caravan route to India, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. Gyantse is most famous for its fortress citadel, or Dzong, and its lamasery. The 15th-century fortress, situated on a hill overlooking the town, served as an effective buffer against invasions from the south for centuries until 1904, when it was partially destroyed and conquered by British forces led by Francis Younghusband. It suffered further damage by the Chinese in the 1960s. Although in poor condition, the fort still has significant traces of ancient wall paintings.

The complex of buildings within the old walls at Gyantse, often referred to as the Palkhor Choide or Pelkor Chode (dpal ‘khor chos sde) Lamasery, was founded in 1418 by Rabten Kunsang (1389–1442), a follower of Khedrup Je (1385–1438), himself a disciple of Tsong Khapa (1357–1419), the founder of the Gelugpa sect. The monastic complex was formerly much more extensive, but a number of buildings were dismantled during the 1960s. The main buildings have survived relatively intact, however. Chief among these and one of the most impressive buildings in all of Tibet is the ...

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Leh  

Kirit Mankodi

Capital of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Located near the River Indus on an ancient trade route between India, Tibet and China, Leh is notable for a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, known as the Tsemo Gompa, and the Lechen Pelkar palace and fort, all erected under the Namgyel rulers of the 16th–17th centuries. Among the buildings of the Tsemo Gompa is the Temple of the Guardian Deities, built by Tashi Namgyel in the 16th century, which contains images of the fierce protector Mahakala, Vaishravana (one of the four heavenly kings), the Great Goddess and another fierce guardian (yet to be identified). Also in the Tsemo Gompa, the Maitreya Temple contains a celebrated three-storey-high figure of the Future Buddha flanked by the bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri; the shrine may date to the 16th century, but it has been extensively renovated in recent times. The palace is a ruined nine-storey structure set on a hill north-east of the town; founded by ...

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[anc. Ānandapura]

Town and temple site in northern Gujarat, India. While the date of its foundation is uncertain, references in the ancient religious text known as the Skanda purā ṇa and the writings of the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang (7th century ad) indicate the considerable importance the town enjoyed by this date as a centre of Hindu and Jaina learning. Two elaborately carved monumental arched gateways (tora ṇas) dating to the 11th century and located just outside the northern walls are the major artistic remains. In form, sculptural style and trabeate construction technique they resemble the gateways at Modhera and Sidhpur. Nothing remains of the temple to which they were originally attached. Several stone-lined, stepped tanks of the 11th and 12th centuries also survive, the largest being the Sarmishta Tank; these were embellished with figurative relief sculptures. A stone inscription embedded in one of Vadnagar’s six gates commemorates the building of the town’s walls and dates to ...