About 45-minute walk from Chaugan Chowk in Lower Bir, the monastery in Chauntra, Mandi represents the Drikung Kagyu Lineage of Buddhism. The monastery complex houses a gompa, mess, guest house, monk accommodations, and roomy open spaces.
The corners of the golden pagoda style-roof are adorned with the heads of makaras. The flat roof of the gompa features the traditional wheel and deer emblem and victory banners in gold color. A row of traditional Tibetan windows with blue frames is carved from the gompa’s grey exterior walls. A number of Buddhist symbols, including moon, sun, and kalachakra (the wheel of time) are incorporated in the design of the front of the gompa built on a high platform. The theme of paintings adorning the porch consists of the Buddhist deities, kalachakra, Mount Meru, and mystic animals. A metal gong hangs in a wooden frame in the porch that is accessible via a flight of steps.
The sanctuary houses three golden color statues: Blue haired Buddha on lotus, Gyalwang Kunga Rinchen wearing red hat, and Drikung Kagyu deity with a trident and vajra. Tormas, bowls, and other offerings are displayed in front of the Buddha statue. For daily prayers, a blue gong, desks, cushions, and embellished seats for priests are arranged in the center of the sanctuary.
The interior walls are not veiled with the paintings. However, the ceiling paintings and friezes exhibit a snow lion on elephant, peacocks, snow lions, tigers, and dragons. A few framed paintings of the deities break the monotony of the white walls. A dazzling victory banner and triple banderole hang from the painted ceiling.
Other structures in the complex
The monk rooms are on the left side of the temple. The guest house overlooks the temple. Achi Temple is located near main gate. Open spaces are clean and green.
From Chaugan Chowk, four roads radiate. If you stand facing the dry cleaner’s shop at the Chowk,
- the road on your left goes to Bir Resort, Colonel’s Resort, and Upper Bir,
- the road in front of you goes to Drikung Kagyu Bhumang Jampaling Monastery,
- the road on your right goes to Baijnath, and
- the road behind you goes to Tibetan Colony.
Refer to the following sketch.
- Take the road in front of you. Keep walking.
- At first fork in the road, take the left side road and continue walking until you reach the main road.
- Cross the main road.
- Take left side secondary road, from where you can see golden color roof of the monastery. Walk for two minutes.
- Take a right turn. Walk a few steps. The monastery gate is on your right side.
“Being an architect isn’t only about construction, it’s about creating wide spaces with small spaces.”— Yannick Heywang