Upper Temple

The Upper Temple is a small square room measuring ca. 5.5 x 5.5 metres, with a height of 4.6 metres. Despite its precarious condition the temple preserves much of it’s original interior decoration on all walls. The main wall is mostly covered in sculptures, consisting of a central, clumsily restored female image within an elaborate throne frame flanked by eight Buddhas. Below the sculptures the group of Eight Bodhisattvas, each placed inside fanciful architectural frames, flanks a very unusual fragmentary depiction of a ◊ Green Tārā as Saviouress from the Eight Dangers.

As in the Main Temple each side wall is occupied by a single mandala, both a variant of the Vajradhatumandala. Remarkable features here are the colourful decorative lotus scrolls and scarves to the sides and in the corners of the mandalas. Of the two clay gate-keepers which once flanked the entrance, only the painted fiery mandorlas remain, together with considerable portions of murals. Most remarkable among these paintings on the entrance wall is the depiction of of the Four Great Kings in 'Chinese' dress above the door.


The configuration of sculptures on the main wall of the Upper Temple is unique. There, the crudely restored main image, most likely to be identified again as the goddess Prajñāpāramitā, is flanked by eight Buddhas. The sculptures have been restored so often that their original appearance can only be guessed at. However, as their relationship to the surrounding original murals proves, these sculptures, too, are contemporaneous with the paintings.

While comparable mandalas of different iconographies are known, Nako is the only monument hitherto known where a goddess as the main image of a mandala composition is flanked by Buddhas only (◊ Upper Temple Sculptures).