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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Tungri Phuntsog Ling

|| Photos || History ||

Tungri Phuntsog Ling can be reached after a short hike up from the village, which is near the main road. The nunnery compound is relatively large so the buildings are spread apart and big chortens sit on the perimeter. Although only 11 nuns live at the nunnery, 16 nuns are part of the assembly - a few younger nuns are at school in the village and a few older nuns have left to receive necessary care. A new prayer hall, guest rooms, and a spacious kitchen were built around a 500 year old prayer room. One guest room is still empty because the nuns could not afford to buy any furniture. Many of the nuns' homes are in need of repair and some rooms have even collapsed. Since there is not enough money in the nunnery funds for repair work, a home can only be repaired if the individual nun is able to secure the help of her family. Two elderly sisters (ages 73 and 76) inhabited a home until one of the sisters, who was blind and deaf, passed away in the winter of 2009. The home is in great need of repair and the surviving sister nun is in desperate need of proper mattresses, blankets and warm clothes for the winter. She depends on herself for collecting food, water, and cooking/heating fuel.

Water was a problem at the nunnery when the nuns' pipe broke and they had to go uphill to collect water or go down to the village during the winter. Fortunately, the government constructed a new pipe system in the fall of 2010 that carries water directly to the nunnery. Whether water will flow winter-long is still uncertain. Day-long prayer sessions are held for seven days each month and a one month puja is performed in the winter. There has never been a teacher at the nunnery and it is very important to the nuns to acquire a teacher in order to learn rituals, prayers, meditation, and the Tibetan language, although at the end of the summer of 2010 the nuns were fortunate to acquire a teacher from Dharamsala with whom the nuns are currently studying Tibetan grammar and writing.


Tungri Nuns Tungri Buildings
Tungri Tungri

More Tungri Photos


History of Tungri Phuntsog Ling

"Along with Dorje Dzong, Tungri is probably the second oldest nunnery in Zangskar. While the clifftop temple in Tungri was first founded by an illustrious Ladakhi monk, Stagsang Raspa (1547-1651), the abbot of Hemis monastery and advisor to Ladakh's greatest king, Serge Namgyal (ruled 1616-1642), it is unclear when nuns began to settle on the cliff. By local legend, a few fields were set aside as an endowment for the local temple after the Lama visited Tungri in 1613 on his way to visit Padmasambhava's birthplace in Uddiyana to the west. The lama stayed for two years in Zangskar, ignoring repeated requests to return to Ladakh by then king, Jamyang Namgyal (ruled 1595-1616). The villagers paid taxes on these fields to Hemis monastery in Ladakh, which were to be delivered down the frozen river gorge each winter. When the villagers carrying the tax fell into the river and drowned, the king was incensed. Although he sent a small army in retaliation, the Tungri villagers foiled the invading army by diverting the stream over their fields. As the Ladakhi soldiers tripped and fell on the ice, they were easily routed by their more able opponents from Zangskar. The villagers continued to pay the taxes to Hemis until the Dogra rulers plundered the temple and restored the land to the tillers who paid taxes to the Dogra ruler in Jammu henceforth. As a result, the temple and its nuns lost a large landed endowment, which used to take three days to plow."

Excerpt from Kim Gutschow's Being A Buddhist Nun (Harvard University Press, 2004: p. 100-101)


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