Dorjee Zong Nunnery in Zanskar: Construction and Bus

Dorjee Zong, An Ancient High-Altitude Nunnery

Dorjee Zong Nunnery is one of the oldest centers in pursuit of monastic education in Zanskar, an arid, high-altitude region of northern India. Founded in the 14th century, it has a long tradition of meditating nuns, some famed for reaching high levels of realization and attainment.

Young girls studying at Dorjee Zong Nunnery photo by Olivier Adam copy

Photo of young girls studying in the single old classroom at Dorjee Zong. The girls and women from this area have traditionally been given far less education than boys and men and were often removed from school as early as Grade 4 if they were sent to school at all. The nunnery gives them a chance for an education that they would not have otherwise. Photo by Olivier Adam

The Tibetan Nuns Project accepted the nunnery into its sponsorship program in 2009. Until recently, the buildings at this 700-year-old nunnery were very basic. There was just one classroom and one main building that was used for everything.

Dorjee Zong Nunnery Zanskar by Olivier Adam

In the past, the nuns at Dorjee Zong did not have the opportunity to engage in rigorous philosophical studies, but their education program is improving. This photo courtesy of Olivier Adam was taken before the expansion project started in 2019.

Dorjee Zong is now going through an exciting transition and major construction project thanks to generous donors. In 2019 building began on:

  • A nunnery school with seven classrooms to accommodate 50 students
  • A new housing block
  • A new kitchen, dining hall, and storeroom
  • A prayer hall
  • An office block
  • New toilet and bathroom building

Construction Continues During Pandemic

The project is nearing completion. Despite the pandemic, this summer work continued on the construction of the new buildings, including the housing blocks, the kitchen, the classrooms and so on.

Expansion project Dorjee Zong Nunnery Zanskar summer 2021

The multi-purpose two-story building has 10 rooms to provide accommodation for 50 students. It contains the kitchen, dining hall, storeroom on the ground floor and, on the upper floor, the prayer hall and a conference hall. Notice the newly added traditional wooden window frames.

In the summer of 2021, 20 workers were employed on the project. Although the construction season at this altitude is very short, there was a lot of work done including:

  • Plastering of the exterior and interior second story of the main building
  • Carpentry work for the dining hall, kitchen, classroom, library, and prayer hall
  • Making cupboards, chairs, tables, and little study tables for the young nuns
  • Plumbing for the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Windows for the classroom, staffroom, and second story
Construction at Dorjee Zong Nunnery 2021, Report on Dorjee Zong

The old nunnery buildings can be seen in the distance. At this altitude, the construction season is short.

New School Bus In Action

In 2019, generous donors funded the purchase of a school bus to enable the young nuns at Dorjee Zong to continue their education. The nuns needed a school bus to make the 12-mile round-trip journey to the government school to continue their education beyond Grade 5.

school bus Dorjee Zong Zanskar

Here’s a photo of the new school bus in action. As you can see, it has a capacity of about 20 seats so serves not only the nuns but also other girls. This is important in a region where girls traditionally have little access to education.

The bus is providing a wonderful service not just for the nuns but also for young girls going to and from school. In 2020, due to the pandemic, the Indian schools were closed for some time. Now they are open again and the nuns are going back and forth to school using the bus.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the expansion project and the bus!

One thought on “Dorjee Zong Nunnery in Zanskar: Construction and Bus

  1. Dianne

    Wonderful but we would love more pictures and descriptions of the Dorjee Zong . Some of these children look somewhat malnourished


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