Shugsep Circumambulatory Path

The Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Shugsep Nunnery and Institute need a circumambulatory path inside the nunnery grounds so they can have safe, regular exercise.

The Nuns Need Regular Exercise to be Healthy

Although there are older nuns who teach and administer the nunnery, many of the nuns are quite young and energetic. But, they spend long hours each day following an intense study program as well as memorizing and participating in the nunnery’s prayers and rituals.

Although the food at the nunnery is wholesome and nourishing, many nuns are frequently sick with minor headaches, fevers, and colds. Some are putting on too much weight.

Collage of photos for Shugsep circumambulatory path

Shugsep Nunnery and Institute near Dharamsala, India is home to almost 100 nuns. The nuns have asked for help to build a circumambulatory path within the nunnery grounds so they can get exercise while also practicing the ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition of doing “kora”, walking around a sacred site.

There is no safe area nearby where the nuns can walk. The main road has no sidewalks. Moreover, it is not safe for women and girls to be walking in these areas as crimes against women are very common.

The nuns need your help to build a circumambulatory path around the perimeter of the nunnery. This will allow them to get safe, regular exercise for their health and wellbeing.

Part of Shugsep Nunnery and Institute is on a steeply sloping hillside so it has not been an easy to establish a pathway. The nuns have now come up with a plan and have met with architects. We hope to have most of the work completed before the monsoon starts this summer.

Budget: $41,500
We have already received a $10,000 donation towards this big project!

Please help build a circumambulatory path for the Shugsep nuns!

  1. Make a gift online
  2. Call our office in Seattle, U.S. at 1-206-652-8901
  3. Mail a check to The Tibetan Nuns Project, 815 Seattle Boulevard South #418, Seattle, WA 98134 U.S. (note that it is for the Shugsep Circumambulatory Pathway)
  4. Donate securities
  5. Leave a gift in your will to the Tibetan Nuns Project

Make a Donation

What is Kora or Circumambulation?

Kora (བསྐོར་བ།) or circumambulation is the act of walking around a sacred place or object. It is a form of pilgrimage and meditation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Nunneries and monasteries with their temples and precious books are sacred spaces. The act of walking around the generates religious merit and cultivates Bodhicitta or an enlightened mind.

The word circumambulation comes from the Latin circum (around) and ambulare (to walk).

A common practice for Tibetan Buddhist nuns and monks is to do prostrations for both physical and mental health. Most monasteries and nunneries also have a circumambulatory pathway. This enables monastics to take healthy daily walks in the open air.

About Shugsep Nunnery and Institute

A Nyingma nunnery, Shugsep traces its rituals and practice to some of the most illustrious female practitioners in Tibetan history. In the previous century, Shugsep Nunnery was home to one of the most famous teachers of her time, Shugsep Jetsunma.

Following the Cultural Revolution in 1959, Shugsep Nunnery in Tibet was completely destroyed. Although the nunnery was partially rebuilt in the 1980s by the nuns themselves, the nuns there faced frequent harassment by Chinese authorities.

Here is a video made in 2006 telling the story of Shugsep Nunnery in Tibet and how it was re-established in India by the Tibetan Nuns Project.

Many of the nuns at Shugsep in India came from the original Shugsep Nunnery in Tibet. The Chinese authorities expelled them for their political activities for Tibet and they escaped over the Himalayas to freely practice their religion in India.

Archival photo from 1991 of a Tibetan Buddhist nun by Susan Lirakis

In the late 1980s and 1990s many Tibetan Buddhist nuns escaped from Tibet including a large number of nuns from the original Shugsep Nunnery. They lived for many years in cramped conditions before the Tibetan Nuns Project re-established Shugsep Nunnery. It was inaugurated in 2010. Photo from 1991 by Susan Lirakis

Shugsep Nunnery was re-established in India in 1992 and the new nunnery was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in December 2010. It is one of two nunneries built and completely supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project. The other is Dolma Ling.

Here’s a charming video tour of the nunnery made in 2017: