When your mind looks into itself, dharmata will dawn from within.
— Guru Padmasambhava

Architecture of Enlightenment™

Vajrayana temples are traditionally created by enlightenened masters as vessels for worship and offering. A temple’s design typically includes an outer perimeter where worshipers can circumambulate (while praying and reciting mantras) and where ceremonial rites, such as fire ceremonies and traditional vajra dances, can be performed.

Traditional butter lamp offerings

The temple’s interior always tells a story: paintings, wall murals, ceiling murals, and a vast array of sculptures portray the various icons and lineage figures passed down from generations through the centuries according to the tradition of each temple’s particular lineage. Special shelves are created to house precious texts, such as the cannon of Buddha’s teachings and a wealth of meditation texts and commentaries on enlightenment teachings. Relic tombs (stupas) are also constructed in the interior and exterior of temples, housing the most precious relics of the enlightened ones.


Traditional temples serve as exalted containers for the practices, ceremonies, and teachings of the temple’s particular wisdom lineage. A mandala temple is similar to a traditional temple in regards to its function, but there is a difference in its physical appearance in that the entire design of the mandala temple is a direct expression of the wisdom deity itself.

As the artist himself describes

Entering a mandala temple is akin to entering the womb of a deity. However, it is not like entering the house of a deity and finding the deity inside. Rather, the house itself, its entire structure - with every rafter, beam, and column - is a direct depiction of the deity’s divine cosmic body. This is the power and blessing of a mandala temple’s celestial design.
— Pema Namdol Thaye

Pema Namdol’s original hand-drawn Zangdok Palri design (circa 2006) has become the benchmark for several Zangdok Palri Temples currently being built throughout the world.


Padma Studios® unique mandala temple designs are inspired by the sublime pure lands (enlightened realms) of enlightened beings (deities). These enlightened realms are believed to be vibrant, omnipresent abodes in which deities and their retinue reside, such as Zangdok Palri, Guru Padmasambhava’s pure realm mandala, or Kechara, Vajrayogini’s pure realm mandala. In order to recreate these ineffable pure lands in our physical world, mandala temple designs created by master mandala architect Pema Namdol Thaye utilize tigse — traditional celestial line measurements found in Vajrayana Buddhist texts — as well as descriptive accounts from esoteric visions of great enlightened masters throughout the ages.

Current Temple Projects:


In 2010 Pema Namdol created a full scale model, accompanying blueprints, and a 3-D rendering for the Golden Buddha Mandala Temple: Pantheon of One Hundred Buddhas. This temple is currently being built in Sikkim, India, under the auspices of the H.E. Rigzin Dorjee Rinpoche.

...Pema Namdol’s obvious commitment to maintaining the traditional roots of this somewhat endangered art form is not only commendable but also essential if the tradition is to survive the modern era.
— Moke Mokotoff, Asian Arts Curator, New York


Pema Namdol is greatly honored to be fulfilling the request of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche Sangye Pema Shepa to design and direct the building of a new monumental Zangdok Palri Mandala Temple in the sacred land of Yangleshö, Nepal, where Guru Padmasambhava himself accomplished spiritual practices for the benefit of all beings.