BIGU GOMPA HERBAL GARDEN PROJECT
In the area of the Bigu Gompa Nunnery should be an herbal garden established. The herbals should be used in the Sowa Rigpa Medicine, a traditional medicine in Nepal.
Following benefits should be created by this project:
- An additional income for the nunnery through the sale of the herbals
- Promotion of the SOWA RIGPA medicine, which will lead to a better health in Nepal and specify in the area through health camps.
- Income generation of the villagers either by employment as care-takers or by selling home growth herbals through the nunnery.
Following organisations are part of the project:
- Tashi Chime Gatsal Nunnery
- Himalaya Guge Organization Nepal, www.himalayanguge.org
- Maitri Vihar e.V., Berlin/ Germany, www.maitrivihar.de
- Nepali Deutsche Gesellschaft e.V., www.nedeg.de
Following organisations supporting the project:
- Reiner Bodmer, a swiss citizen a retired former employee of the Swiss Development Organization HELVETA Development
- Sowa Rigpa College, Kathmandu, www.sorigcollege.org
- Freunde Nepals e.V., München www.freunde-nepals.de
- Brepal e.V. www.brepal.de
History of the nunnery
The name Bigu Gompa comes from the name of the nearby village. The correct name is „Tashi Chime Gatsal Nunnery “. But even in official maps the name Bigu Gompa is used.
The nunnery was founded in 1932. Since then the community in Rolwalling has been converted to Buddhism from Hinduism. In the peak time the nunnery had more than eighty nuns and was the largest nunnery in Nepal.
The nunnery became a tourist attraction when the Austria based organisation „ECOHIMAL“has started to build up infrastructure for trekking. Unfortunately, during the Maoist movement 1995 – 2005 the area was heavily effected and most of the facilities were fallen apart.
The earthquake 2015 destroyed the buildings of the nunnery almost completely. Several of the series of aftershocks had their epicentres located in Dolakha. Some of the major ones inflicted heavy damage to the buildings that were already impacted by the main shocks and also the aftershocks in April and May 2015. Almost all of the buildings, except one, belonging to the Bigu Gumba were damaged beyond repairs. The present-day kitchen building was seriously damaged but could be retrofitted after a detailed damage assessment.
The nuns had be evacuated to the Kathmandu valley afterwards. In spring 2016 the reconstruction of the nunnery has started. During 2017 most of the nuns returns to the nunnery.
The Gompa is located at Ward number 8 of Bigu VDC with around 88 households with almost all had been damage and being under reconstruction. Around 30-40 households were nearby the Gompa.
The residents belong to Sherpa and Tamang ethnicity. The nunnery teaches nuns who voluntarily come here to specialize on Tibetan script and Buddhist philosophy. With the need of modern education, the nuns are also taught Nepal Government Ministry of Education regular schooling courses up to fifth grade.
The Gompa complex is located on hill slope terrace, below a rocky mountain face, at an altitude of about 2500m above sea level. The weather here is mostly cold and windy, with snowfalls in the winter months of November – the beautiful scenery around and the pleasant climate makes the place an ideal tourist destination. Northern Side of the Gompa is susceptible to landslide.
The route towards Bigu Gompa is facilitated by bumpy earthen road, which functions well until heavy rainfall or landslides. The road is connected with Singati (Centre for almost 20 VDCs of Dolakha), which is about 40 km from the Headquarter Charikot. The Travel time from Charikot to Singati is almost 2.5 hrs. on vehicle. The facility of local transport is ample until 3 PM. The board and lodge facility is good at Singati. Bigu Gompa is about 30-35 km from Singati; Only sturdy high clearance 4WD (e.g. an Indian Tata Sumo or Bolero) vehicle can negotiate the road, which has very irregular surface and difficult stretches with steep horizontal and vertical curves. The travel time is around 3 to 4 hours.
A public bus is coming every day from Kathmandu towards this road in 14 hours.
An alternative route towards the height of Tising-La has been destroyed during earthquake and not reconstructed.
Re- Construction work at Bigu Gompa
When evacuated to Kathmandu the nuns and the lama had been in desperate situation, not knowing if they ever could return to the area. Several doubts had been if the area would be safe for future settlements and if the spring will start to run again. Although Lama Geshe was working already on plans for the rebuilding of the nunnery.
In a first step an evaluation had been conducted by NSET
In May 2016 a team from NSET together with Reiner Bodmer conducted a visit to Bigu Gompa to make a visual Assessment of the landslide problem and to give recommendation for the reconstruction of Bigu Gompa. Reiner Bodmer a Swiss citizen a retired former employee of the Swiss Development Organization HELVETA has taken an approach to help the rebuild of the nunnery. The Evaluation gives recommendation but mainly stated that the area is safe for future settlements.
- Visual Assessment of Landslide Problem in Bigu Gumba – A Report of NSET Assessment conducted & Report written by: Amod Mani Dixit, Executive Director, NSET Desk Study and Field photo/videography by: Pradeep Thapa, Civil Engineer, NSET Field Survey and documentation by: Pranav Dahal, Civil Engineer, NSET Shyam Baniya, Civil Engineer, NSET Report Submitted to: Honorable Kaysey, Bigu Gumba, Dolakha Through: Mr Reiner Bodmer, Swiss Citizen May 2016
Reiner Bodmer collected money from several NGO`s, Maitri Vihar e.V. Berlin, Freunde Nepals München e.V., Nepali Deutsche Gesellschaft and other private persons to make a repair of the water supply.
During 2017 the living areas of the nuns and the guest house were rebuilt with local resources. Two school buildings were rebuilt with the help of Nepal Hilfe Aachen e.V.
In march 2018 a health centre was inaugurated, financed and managed by BREPAL e.V. together with Dental Care e.V., both German based NOG`s. The philosophy of Dr. Klaus Eggert the president and co- founder of BREPAL e.V. is to bring a high quality western medicine to the rural area of Nepal. The three rooms of the health centre consist of a dentist room, a women health care room and a room for consulting. The health centre will be permanently staffed with local personal and temporary with German doctors.
The reconstruction of the central Gompa has still not started (Spring 2018). The needed cost is compare to the already invested money quite high.
Start of the Herbal Garden Project Bigu Gompa
In March 2018 a group of Maitri Vihar e.V. together with Dr. Tenzing Dharke Gurung (President of Himalayan Guge Association and Sowa Rigpa International College and Mr. Tashi Phuntsok Rokaya, general secretary of the Himalayan Guge Association were driving to Bigu Gompa for fact finding and clarifying the task and responsibilities.
During the visit following tasks had been conducted:
- Climate, soil, water condition had been investigated. Several herbals which are already growing in the areas had been identify.