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).

Doring Inscription

That the place was part of the Purang-Guge kingdom during king Yéshé Ö’s time, that is around 1000 CE, is shown by an inscription on a stone pillar (doring, རྡོ་རིང་) found in the fields between the hamlets of Nagasang and Khorro in the southern part of the village (◊ Poo Doring). According a local informant the exact place-name would be Langsar, the name of the two houses below the site. Besides lha bla ma Yéshé Ö (ལྷ་བླ་མ་ཡེ་ཤེས་འོད་) the inscriptions also mentions on of his sons (Nāgarāja or Devarāja).

  • Thakur, Laxman S. 1994. A Tibetan Inscription by lHa Bla-ma Ye-shes-’od from dKor (sPu) Rediscovered. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 3, 4, no. 3: 369-375.

Lotsawa Lhakhang

Poo village contains a small temple known as Lotsawa Lhakhang (ལོ་ཙ་བ་ལྷ་ཁང་) or Translator’s Temple, its name referring to the great translator Rinchen Zangpo (རིན་ཆེན་བཟང་པོ་, 958–1051). The foundation of this 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 Avalokiteśvara, has survived. The thick layer of crude repainting resulted in us overlooking this life-size wooden sculpture on 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).

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