The loss and damage to Nepal's major heritage sites resulting from the recent earthquake are unfathomable and will severely impact this aspect of the nation's identity.  Meanwhile, Nepal relies heavily on tourism as one of the country's main income sources.  Since tourists come to Nepal to appreciate this vast storehouse of cultural heritage, strong efforts must be made to restore and preserve these incredible sites for future generations both for Nepal and for the entire international community as well.

Bodhivastu's Heritage Renewal Initiative, HRI, was initiated and supported by the Bodhivastu Foundation For Enlightened Activity and has been implemented in Nepal by both Bodhivastu and The Himalayan Light Foundation (HLF) in partnership with several organizations related with each site.  These collaborating organizations include the Shree Boudhanath Gyang Association, (Guthi), The Shree Boudhanath Area Development Committee, and we also plan to work with the Sankhu Vajrayogini Samiti.  

Sankhu Vajrayogini Temple Structures and Goddess Path 

Sankhu Vajrayogini Temple Before the Earthquake 

Sankhu Vajrayogini Temple Before the Earthquake 

Sankhu Vajrayogini also has ties to both Guru Padmasambhava (often known as the second Buddha), and the Tamang and Newar People of the Kathmandu  valley.  Resting on the eastern edge of the Kathmandu valley, the town of Sankhu was the home of Shakya Demma, an unwanted young girl born into the Shakya clan who was left abandoned in the woods to survive on her own in nature.  Raised by the monkeys of the jungle there, she maintained a purity of uncontrived mind and later became the Dakini consort of Guru Padmasambhava, going on to form another critical part of Tibetan history.  This location is also known as the famous gathering place for the 80 Maha Siddhas of Guru Rinpoche.

The Temple has two main sections, a lower temple complete with a Vajrayogini statue, flanked by her retinue, the Lion-faced Goddess (Dakini) and also the Tiger Faced Goddess. The upper temple's main figure is known by several names such as, Kadga Yogini, Ugra Tara, or simply "Grandmother" (Ajima) in the Newar language.   Both the upper and lower temples were slightly damaged by the first earthquake.

Bodhivastu operates a sister retreat center in Sankhu just below the temple called "The Place of Unchanging Great Bliss". This center lies on the road which the Goddess moves on each year during the Sankhu Dakini festival.  Bodhivastu has designed a special half way stopover for the goddess where each year she and those portering her by chariot can rest and recieve some refreshments for the continued journey into the town of Sankhu or back up to the temple at the end of the festival.   The area will have benches and a place for the food offerings each year. 

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Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa Spire after 2nd earthquake on May 12th

Boudhanath Stupa Spire after 2nd earthquake on May 12th


The famous Boudhanath Stupa, (Jarong Kashore in the Tibetan Language), forms the basis for a huge section of the regions history as it encompasses Nepalese, Indian and Tibetan religious and cultural histories.  Located on the eastern side of the Kathmandu valley, according to legend, the entire history of Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism in Tibet, owes it history to its construction story and ensuing wave of positive effects.  More about the history of the Boudhanath Stupa will be posted here soon.

The Bodhivastu Foundation is connected deeply with the Boudhanth Stupa on many levels.  To begin with, the members of our board have long been connected with the Boudhanath Gyang Association, (Guthi), Shree Boudhanath Area Development Committee, which are some of the important care-taking bodies of the site among other organizations and uncountable faithful individuals.  

In addition to this institutional linkage, Bodhivastu has as one of its main objectives, the construction of world peace architectural sites and has been endeavoring to construct a Stupa based on Boudhanath Stupa for more than 7 years now.  The Stupa of the Great Awakening, slated for construction in New York State, is to be a monument and celebration of humanity's interdependence on an International scale. (see the letter from Boudhanath Gyang Guthi by clicking here)   The linkage between Bodhivastu's main project and this historic site, institutionally and historically, makes the restoration of Boudhanath and its link to America all the more obvious. More information will be posted about the Stupa of Great Awakening USA project regularly here.

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Swayambhunath Stupa

Popularly known as the "Monkey Temple", Swayambhunath Stupa played a formative role in the Kathmandu Valley and Nepal's overall history.   Located in the heart of the Kathmandu Valley, Swayambhunath Stupa is also known in the Tibetan as the "Rang Jung Chorten" or "The Self-Arisen Stupa".  Geologically, the hilltop the actual stupa sits on is considered to be a self-arisen stupa while the architectural stupa is simply a formal declaration of that understanding, consecrated with Lord Buddha's and other relics.  The history of the creation of the Kathmandu valley will be posted here soon. 

Although Swayambhunath was in fact very recently restored in a very comprehensive manner by The Guna Foundation, the ancient surrounding buildings and temples were not part of that restoration.  Being made largely of brick and simple mortar, many of these subsidiary structures collapsed during this recent earthquake.  Bodhivastu is now forming alliances to commence collaborative efforts to restore this major heritage site for this and future generations.

The family of Sapana Shakya, one of Bodhivastu's Founding directors, is one of the Newar families who looks after the Swayambhunath temple duties and care taking on a rotational basis. 

Swayambunath Stupa in Kathmandu after Initial Earthquake

Swayambunath Stupa in Kathmandu after Initial Earthquake