Buddhist Gardens and the Dragon Garden in Shey, Ladakh

If anyone would like a (free) ticket, I am giving a lecture about the influence of Buddhism on garden design – to be followed with a lecture by Simon Drury-Brown on the design of the Dragon Garden for the Druk White Lotus School in Ladakh, India. Tickets are available from Eventbrite. The design of the school, by Arup Associates, is based on a mandala. The design of the garden extends the mandala concept and gives it a wider application.
The great Italian scholar of Tibetan Buddhism, Giuseppe Tucci, explained the mandala concept in a way which makes it well suited to forming the basis for a landscape plan for a school community. Tucci wrote that ‘First and foremost, a mandala delineates a consecrated superficies and protects it from invasion by disintegrating forces symbolized in demoniacal cycles. But a mandala is much more than just a consecrated area that must be kept pure for ritual and liturgical ends. It is, above all, a map of the cosmos. It is the whole universe in its essential plan, in its process of emanation and of reabsorption. The universe not only in its inert spatial expanse, but as temporal revolution and both as a vital lprocess which develops from an essential Principle and ratates round a central axis, Mount Sumeru, the axis of the world on which the sky rests and which sinks its roots into the mysterious substratum. This is a conception common to all Asia and to which clarity and precision have been lent by the cosmological ideas expressed in the Mesopotamian zikurrats and reflected in the plan of the Iranian rulers’ imperial city, and thence in the ideal image of the palace of the cakravartin, the ‘Universal Monarch’ of Indian tradition‘. The Druk School will become a place where teachers, students and visitors are encouraged to think about the nature of the cosmos and the nature of human life. The landscape design is being developed by landscape architecture staff and students from the Univesity of Greenwich. Design, construction and fund-raising are managed by a UK Charity, the Drukpa Trust. The school has won a sheaf of international awards. The architects, Arup Associates, explain that

  • Classrooms face the morning sun to make the most of natural light and heat.
  • The school is largely self-sufficient in energy.
  • Two boreholes and solar pumps supply the school site with all the water it needs.

7 thoughts on “Buddhist Gardens and the Dragon Garden in Shey, Ladakh

  1. Mike

    I’m sure I’m not the only Antipodean who would really like to listen to a podcast of your lecture.
    Yours expectantly,

  2. Christine

    I am with Mike on this! It would be wonderful to attend in person…but for those of us who may not be able to attend it would be great to have a blog with a podcast on your lecture to read, view and listen to.

  3. jerry

    Christine, it is nice of you to say that you would love to see Tom, listen to his lecture, discuss with him and listen to him. But I am afraid whether your dream would come true. because Tom disappeared since this afternoon.

  4. jerry

    Christine, sorry, if I confused you, that Tom I mentioned may not be the one you know, my Tom is only a green toad on my instep. It is always be there-working, working and working and sometimes be naughty to hide from me.

  5. jerry

    OK, If I have a good mood on the 26th of February after meeting my academic boss, then I will be happy to video Tom’s lecture. However, if there is no good mood, I will not.


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