Main Temple

The largest temple of Nako, the Main Temple (Tsuklakhang = gTsug lag khang) or Translator’s Temple (Lotsawa Lhakhang = Lo tsa ba lHa khang), is also the oldest monument in the village. The Translator's Temple is an approximately 8 metres long and 8.25 metres wide room with an apse at the back (ca. 2.7 meters deep and 4.40 meters wide). The ceiling of the room is extremely high (5.5 to 5.7 meters) allowing the mandala circles on the side walls to cover almost the whole wall.

The apse in the back of the temple is occupied by the clay sculptures of the five Buddhas with Vairocana in the centre. The south wall contains a large Dharmadhātuvāgiśvaramañjuśrī mandala which occupies the whole wall. This representation at Nako is the most detailed and expressive depiction of this mandala throughout the Himalayas. The mandala occupying the north wall has been repainted in the centre while some outer parts are still fairly well preserved. It can be identified as a variant of the Sarvadurgatipariśodhana mandala. Remarkable are the expressive representations of the lower worlds in which a being can be reborn in the corners of this mandala. The entrance wall was almost completely replaced during a historical restoration and now preserves only a few fragments of a donor depiction to the left of the entrance.


The five Jina in the apse represent the core deities of a Vajradhātu mandala the secondary deities of which have been painted around them. But, besides the few original sections of painting which allow to conclude that the sculptures are contemporary with them, the apse has mostly been repainted. Apparently it has suffered a lot through history as even the repainting stems from several restorations at later periods.

The goddess to the left of the apse does not belong to the main group and can be identified as the goddess Prajñāpāramitā. Like Vairocana, she is surrounded by an elaborate throne frame. All the images are placed at a height of slightly more than two metres (see the ◊ Nako Main Temple Sculpture Gallery).

These sculptures go back to the time of foundation, when also the walls of temple were painted, but have occasionally been considerably restored and repainted. For example, all jewellery of the sculptures was replaced and some of the figures were almost completely restored. Despite the repainting the throne frames of the main images, in particular the fantastic depictions of the sea-monsters (makara) placed on the upper cross-bar of the thrones, evidence the high quality of the original workmanship.

The apse also preserves highly fragmentary remains of a large wall-text, while underneath Prajñāpāramitā an equally incomplete inscription of four stanzas accompanies an only vaguely discernible donor depiction.

On the sculptures see: