Shugsep Circumambulatory Path

Thank you to the 65 donors who funded this huge project!

For many years, the nuns Shugsep Nunnery and Institute have wanted a path where they can practice kora, traditional Tibetan walking meditation. In 2023, the nuns asked for help to build a kora path and, thanks to the generosity of 65 Tibetan Nuns Project supporters, the path was finished in the fall of 2023.

new kora path at Shugsep Nunnery

The Khenpo or abbot of the nunnery is extremely grateful for your generosity. Kora (བསྐོར་བ།) or circumambulation is the act of walking around a sacred place or object such as a temple. Walking around a sacred space generates religious merit and cultivates bodhicitta, the awakened or enlightened mind.

The path has made a huge difference for the health and well being of the nuns. Before the path was built, the nuns were often sick and some nuns had go to get medical care. The nuns had little opportunity for exercise because the road into the nunnery is narrow, steep, and dangerous and wasn’t safe for walking. Moreover, it is not safe for girls and women to be walking in these areas because crimes against women are common.

Now the nuns use the kora path twice a day, morning and evening, and there has been a dramatic improvement in their health!

Here’s a video tour for you.

The nuns tell us with big smiles how much they love their new kora path. Each morning, the younger nuns follow the Khenpo five times around the nunnery for exercise!

Shugsep kora path solar lights

After the path was completed in October 2023, solar lights were added so that the nuns can walk safely at night.

Work on the circumambulatory path began in early 2023 and was completed in October. The sloping terrain and harsh monsoon posed challenges for construction, but the workers did an excellent job and the nuns helped to prepare the land. Railings and steps are important features of the path. The stone steps have been made with iron front edges to ensure that they do not chip and crumble. The new boundary wall at the top of the nunnery provides the nuns with excellent privacy.

mani stones on the kora path at Shugsep Nunnery

Part of the path is now lined with sacred mani stones given to the nunnery.

Our deepest thanks to all those who supported this huge project and made the nuns’ dream a reality!

For a list of Current Needs from the Tibetan Nuns Project, visit:

Here’s a slideshow of the path being built.

Work began on the path in the summer of 2023
The steep terrain poses challenges for the path
Nangsa Chodron, director of the Tibetan Nuns Project office in India inspects the path
Looking down on some of the nunnery buildings
Good progress was made in spite of the heavy monsoon.
TNP Board Chair, Dr. Elizabeth Napper, checks progress on the path in late September 2023
Railings are added for safety
Work in progress... The steep slope of the nunnery grounds will provide good exercise for the nuns
The path has a mixture of flat stretches and steps
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About Shugsep Nunnery and Institute

A Nyingma nunnery, Shugsep traces its rituals and practices 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 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 and they escaped from Tibet 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: