Building a temple, 4.300 metres above sea level

Lawudo Gompa is one of the highest and most inaccessible Buddhist temples in the world – to be reached only on foot. The temple is situated 4.300 metres high in the Himalayas surrounded by snow-covered mountain peaks and floating clouds.

856961_428924327189099_1550725835_oIn the early 1970s when the Lawudo Gompa was built, it was meant to house young monks from the region. As they moved down to the Kathmandu Valley, Lawudo has served as a retreat center only. Known as the Cave of Blissful Attainments, this temple nestles against the side of the mountain; great yogis have meditated here in remote cave-dwellings.  Lama Zopa has requested the complete renovation and extension of the Lawudo Gompa and the retreat center to make the utmost use of the energies of this sacred place.

“Above all Lawudo is a place of great inspiration and most intense strength of spiritual energies. When you are in Lawudo, mirror-like images just seem to pop up from the depths of your primordial nature – you find yourself confronted with what seems to be some kind of residues from an earlier time of your being in cyclic existence. The firm hold of ego-grasping, from which we are all suffering, somehow seems to loosen up – its an extremely fascinating experience,” the Baltic Review was told.

615791_536244263058013_369875479_oThe site perched high in the Himalayas poses a particular set of construction challenges. The high altitude and harsh environment means that construction in Lawudo is extremely difficult and expensive. Certain materials are more difficult to acquire – concrete for example has a 900% mark-up value from it’s normal cost. Every tiny bit of construction material has to be flown in from Kathmandu to Lukla by plane or helicopter and then brought up to Lawudo on the back of yaks or the legendary Sherpa-porters.

At present, under the direction of Sangay Chhodar, the meditation hall is being restored. Since last year the library-building – containing quite a lot of Dharma-literature in various languages – has been completed and is now serving its purpose. “Lawudo is like another world, it has its own time which seems to bear little if any resemblance to time as we know it in the West,” said Frank Brock, former director of the Lawudo Retreat Centre. “There’s no rush, everything happens with harmony and good nature that puts a smile on everyone’s face.”

Bibbi Abruzzini
Bibbi Abruzzini is a foreign correspondent for the BALTIC REVIEW and international news agencies in South Asia. She is Italian, grew up in Brussels and has reported from several countries, including Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Croatia, France, India, Italy, Lebanon, Nepal, Tunisia,Turkey and the US – writing largely about social and development issues.