Thupstan Chosling - Chumathang

THF/LOTI was invited to Chumathang village, located 140km from Leh in the Southeast direction, to look at Thupstan Chosling Temple, known as Gonpa-nyingba (old temple). The temple belongs to the Druk-pa Kagyu lineage and was founded by Lama Chozey Lakpa in 1631. From our observation, it was essential to repair the damaged roof, which was in danger of collapsing and destroying the wall paintings, it was most important to protect the beautiful wall paintings and prevent further damage.
The temple is a one-storied building built on a stone platform. The interior walls are painted with wall painting on four sides, covering an area of about 30 square meters. There are rooms underneath the temple, which were believed to be meditation rooms.
three parts: structural repairs, wall painting conservation and platform repair.

In 2014, THF/LOTI conducted an architectural survey, documented the building photographically and developed the restoration plan and divided the plan in three parts: structural repairs, wall painting conservation and platform repair.
We coordinated with the local community to prepare the construction materials, help with labour and logistics and the project started.
As most of the rafters were damaged it was necessary to make extensive roofing repairs. First we protected well the wall painting before opened the entire roof. Due to its deformation the pillar/brackets and beams were dismantled and levelling and adjustments were made. Meanwhile the masons reinforced the wall cracks with wooden braces, also carpenters repaired deformed doorframe. Wooden structural parts were washed and reassembled in their original positions and where necessary replaced.

Extra care was taken on the roofing work and the parapet to protect the wall paintings from water leakage. Different layers of soil and clay were applied and then we treated the roof surface. This was done to improve the water resistance performance. The parapet was also covered with slate stones and we whitewashed the exterior walls. The door and the parapet were painted with oxidized iron red called Za which is a characteristic of a Buddhist temple.

In 2015, we started with the conservation work on the wall painting. There are fine wall paintings on the four walls, covering the area of approx. 30 square meters. The wall painting iconography contains the founders of the Kagyu school, the lamas of Druk-pa lineage and important figures and deities of Buddhism.
The wall painting conservation work started with the preparation of clay mortar and filling cracks and holes. Meanwhile, edge points were made to bind the fragile paint layer and the support layer of the mural. Also some wall painting fragments, were fixed back in their original positions. Later conservators applied a finer clay mortar as the second layer and made the filling layer level with the painting layer. Consolidation work had been completed and the mechanical cleaning process was started to remove the dust and dirt on the painting surface with brushed and sponges.

In 2016 we continued with the wall painting conservation work and completed the project. In 2016 we also completed the third phase of the project. The masons paved the exterior path and the platform with slate stone. The platform was repaired and consolidated and the stone stairs and the banner stand were also repaired. Many of the village people volunteered to carry the slates from a stone quarry and provided logistic assistance for material transportation. Chumathang village community decorated the restored temple with prayer flags and they were very happy about the result of the conservation project.

Project supported by ACHR/CAN ‘Perween Rahman Fellowship’, Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and Chumathang community.
Copyright, Tibet Heritage Fund