Tag Archives: Project report

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!

Safe and Bright: New Solar Lights at Shugsep Nunnery

In February 2021, the Tibetan Nuns Project asked for help to fund solar lights at Shugsep Nunnery and Institute. You responded magnificently and the project was fully funded by the end of the month.

We’re delighted to report back on the completed solar light project and to share photos with you. The nuns and the head of the nunnery, Khenpo Namgyal, are very grateful to all those who supported this project. We’ll report back on other parts of the Shugsep project such as the dough machine as soon as possible.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns instal solar lights at nunnery

Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Shugsep dig a hole to install some of the new solar lights at the nunnery.

Solar Lights for Safety and Education

Earlier this year, the nuns and staff at Shugsep Nunnery asked for a number of solar-powered lights. They needed this lighting both for security and to enable the nuns to study outside their rooms in the evenings.

The lights arrived at the nunnery this spring. The nuns and staff helped to install them so there was no need to bring outside workers into the nunnery. This was especially important because it helped to keep the nuns safe from COVID-19.

solar panels for lights at Shugsep Nunnery

The balconies outside the nuns’ rooms needed two solar lights each. The nuns also installed lights in each of the two garden areas in front of the main temple. The road to the nunnery gate was very dark. Now the the solar lights on the road brighten the path, keeping the nuns safe and allowing them to study at night.

Thank you so much for your support!

new solar lights at Shugsep Nunnery and Institute

About Shugsep Nunnery and Institute

Shugsep Nunnery, home now to 76 nuns, was re-established in India and officially inaugurated in December 2010. It is one of two nunneries built and completely supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project.

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.

The majority of the nuns studying in Shugsep Nunnery near Dharamsala came from the original Shugsep Nunnery in Tibet. Their nunnery was destroyed following the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the nuns were forced to leave. Although in the 1980s the nuns partially rebuilt the original Shugsep, they faced frequent harassment by Chinese authorities and many escaped to India.

Now nuns have the opportunity to participate in a nine-year academic program of Buddhist philosophy, debate, Tibetan language, and English.

Take a video tour of the nunnery.