Deden Tsuklagkhang Temple, meaning ‘The seat of happiness’ temple is a magnificent example of Tibetan religious architecture, displaying some of the finest work done by Norbulingka artists, and the perfect place for prayer and reflection. The temple is built in the traditional Tibetan style with a wide base and a narrow top.
The centerpiece of the temple is a 14ft gilded statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, the largest of its kind outside Tibet, lovingly crafted by Norbulingka artists from hand-hammered copper sheets. The statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, begun in July 1994 and completed in late 1995, is symbolic of the huge influence the Buddha’s teachings have had on Tibetan culture. The Buddha statue and the clay sculpted images that decorate the arch behind him, as well as the frescos on the walls, were all made by Norbulingka artists.
Painted behind the statue are the 12 principal deeds of the Buddha Shakyamuni and on the two sides of the Buddha statue, the painting depictions of the Sixteen Arhats, leading disciples of the Buddha Shakyamuni. Around the main hall of the temple, the walls have 1173 images of the Buddha that decorate the 44ft high temple hall.
On the balcony are two sets of paintings, which is quite unique. The paintings on the two sides illustrate the fourteen Dalai Lamas, on the one side has the fifth Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, who was the first Dalai Lama who was the considered the ruler of Tibet. His predecessors had been great religious teachers; they did a great deal for Buddhism in Tibet. The Great Fifth, as he is usually referred to, became the ruler of a unified Tibet. On the other side, we have His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and his predecessor – the 13th Dalai Lama, they painted lifelike and differently from the others because of the availability of references and also to form a connection with the viewers. At the back wall are paintings of some of the great Buddhist masters and scholars.
Deden Tsuklagkhang is the spiritual centre of Norbulingka and its community. It stands witness to the exquisite work of the Norbulingka artists: the master sculptor and his team built the Buddha statue, while the Thangka painters painted the walls of the temple with elaborate paintings, the woodcarvers worked on the carved throne for His Holiness and the tailors sewed the curtains, cushions. It is indeed a masterpiece and a tribute to the rich traditional artistic heritage with the work and dedication put in by our artists who worked for more than a year, sometimes long into the night, to bring it to completion.