View of Zangskar Valley
Zangskar Nunneries

Member nunneries of Zangskar Nuns Association:

  1. Karsha Chuchikjall Kachod Grubling
  2. Pishu Namgyal Choling
  3. Zangla Byangchub Choling
  4. Rizhing Dorje Dzong
  5. Tungri Phuntsog Ling
  6. Sani Kachod Ling
  7. Skyagam Phagmo Ling
  8. Manda Padma Choling
  9. Bya Dolma Choling
  10. Chumig Gyartse Namtak Choling



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Rizhing Dorje Dzong

|| Photos || History ||

Rizhing Dorje Dzong requires a steep climb uphill to reach and is far from the main part of the village, although a road has been built to provide easier access to the nunnery. Several old chortens crowd around the buildings and the two prayer halls are both several hundred years old. There are now only eight nuns in residence, but the nunnery used to be almost twice that size. Lack of a teacher has forced several nuns to leave the nunnery and attend philosophy schools in other parts of India. The remaining nuns are disorganized and somewhat discouraged, explaining that they spend a lot of time in the village with their families since there is nothing to do at the nunnery without a teacher.

The nuns only hold prayer sessions two times each month along with month-long rituals for two months of the year. Recently the nunnery received a heritage site grant from the Indian government and the nuns purchased a new set of prayer books. Electricity is often available and is from the same source as Karsha's, but just as it the case throughout Zangskar, problems with electricity, both summer and winter, are very common. The nuns have two solar panels, and unlike most of the nunneries they have water available year-round. Also uncommon is the fact that the nunnery owns land on which they grow peas and barley. The nuns would like to build a new greenhouse and start a school at the nunnery in order to encourage young girls to become nuns and receive a good education at the same time.


Dorje Dzong Nuns Dorje Dzong Buildings
Dorje Dzong Dorje Dzong

More Dorje Dzong Photos


History of Rizhing Dorje Dzong

"Written sources confirm that Karsha monastery was founded by an 11th century monk known as Phagspa Sherab (1045-1115?) who studied with Rinchen Zangpo's junior colleague Legspa Sherab. Known in Tibetan texts simply as the Zangskar translator, this monk is believed to have founded Karsha and Phughtal monasteries, translated several key Tantras, and participated in the famous Guge Council in 1076 on abolishing aberrant Tantric practices. Karsha, Phugthal, Stongde, Mune, and Lingshed monasteries were all converted to the Gelugpa school of Buddhism in the fifteenth century. These conversions were undertaken by a charismatic Ladakhi monk named Byangsems Sherab Zangpo (1395-1457), one of the foresmost disciples of the Tibetan monk Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), who founded the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. Sherab Zangpo received numerous endowments of land including three villages in Zangskar, Karlang, Trahan, and Tzazar to support new temples at Tzazar and Dorje Dzong." [Excerpt from Kim Gutschow's Being A Buddhist Nun (Harvard University Press, 2004: p. 100)]

The nunnery at Dorje Dzong was originally conceived of as the site for a male monastic population. Sherab Zangpo commissioned the construction of a statue of Maitreya at the temple site at Dorje Dzong. During the statue's construction the features of the deity began to resemble that of woman rather than a man. It was then decided (albeit by whom is unclear) that therefore the monastic site at Dorje Dzong was better suited for a female monastic population.


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