Tamshing Lhakhang was founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa who was personally involved in its construction. It took four years to build and even today remains the premier center for teaching Pema Lingpa’s tradition of Buddhist studies. It is believed that he was assisted in his task of constructing Tamzhing Lhakhang by Khandums who are female celestial beings.
The outer courtyard of Tamshing monastery holds the monk’s quarters while the inner courtyards leads to the lhakhang. The Dungkar Lhakhang is to the East of this courtyard which also accesses the assembly hall. In this hall is a separate structure-the main chapel.
A low balcony wraps around the upper floor of Tamshing Lhakhang which also has a chapel, located just above the lower one, which holds the statue of Buddha of Long Life.
There are thirty-six paintings on the inner walls at the ground level-these are attributed to Pema Lingpa himself and are the oldest extant paintings in the country.Each has a central deity surrounded by attendants, the figures conforming to the iconographic canons established by him. These early sixteenth century paintings are of special value and interest in the field of both art and history as they are in their original forms.
The inner sanctuary of Tamshing lhakhang
It is dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava and his eight manifestations. His statue is believed to have been sculpted by the Khandums and has the eyes sloping upwards watching the angels in their flight!Another unusual aspect is the fact that Guru Padmasambhava is not wearing shoes.Pema Lingpa's original coat of mail is kept on this floor and it is supposed to bring good luck if you can carry it three times around the Tamzhing Lhakhang. (Warning: It weighs twenty-five kilograms!) .
Moving to the upper floor, the walls are elaborately illustrated with 1004 paintings of Buddha and those of the 21 Taras and striking yellow -on -red depiction of the Three Bodies of Buddha- Amitabha, Avalokiteswara and Padmasambhava. On the inner walls are paintings of the religious cycle with eight forms of Guru Rinpoche, the Eighty-four Mahasiddhas and 1000 Buddhas.
The collection is one of the most remarkable pertaining to this period, in the country and indeed anywhere in the Himalayas. The temple on the upper floor of Tamshing monastery is dedicated to Amitayus, but do look out for the small statue of Pema Lingpa in a glass case by the entrance. Tamzhing Lhakhang affords a great view of Kurjey Lhakhang complex across the river.
*Carry a torch while visiting Tamshing Lhakhang so you can fully appreciate the magnificent art.The famous Tamzhing-Phala- Choepa Festival is held here.