Location

On the Indian side of the Shipki pass, slightly downstream from the confluence of the Spiti and Sutlej rivers, is the village of Poo (sPu), the main village of upper Kinnaur. Lying at an altitude of 2800 metres, the village had apparently always been an important location on the trade route connecting the north-west Indian plains with the western Himalayas, as the Sutlej river had to be crossed just below the village in order to proceed towards West Tibet (◊ Poo Gallery).

That the place was part of the Purang-Guge kingdom during king Yeshe-ö’s time, that is around 1000, is shown by an inscription on a stone pillar (rdo-ring) in the fields below the southern part of the village which records its name as well as that of the king (◊ Poo Doring).

Translator's Temple

Poo village contains a small temple known as the Translator’s Temple (Lo-tsa-ba lHa-khang), its name referring to the great translator Rinchen Zangpo (Rin-chen-bzang-po, 958–1051). The foundation of the Translator’s Temple certainly goes back to the Purang-Guge kingdom, but from its original interior only the astonishing wooden image of the Bodhisattva Vajradharma, a form of Avalokites´vara, has survived. The thick layer of crude repainting resulted in us overlooking this life-size wooden sculpture on earlier visits prior to 1994. With a height of 2 m (including the base), and made in one piece, it is certainly the largest of its kind (◊ Poo Vajradharma Gallery).

A separate page is dedicated to an early illuminated manuscript also in the Translator’s Temple of Poo.

The ◊ Poo Vajradharma Gallery complements the publication:

  • Luczanits, Christian. 1996. Early Buddhist Wood Carvings from Himachal Pradesh. Orientations 27 (6):67-75.