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Tibetan Nuns Project Seeks to Upgrade Kitchen at Dolma Ling Buddhist Nunnery in Dharamsala

The Tibetan Nuns Project (TNP), a US-registered charity based in Seattle and in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, India, has reported that the Buddhist nuns of Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in northern India urgently need to upgrade their kitchen facilities.

Although the TNP successfully raised funds in 2021 to provide the nuns with a better-equipped kitchen,* poor ventilation and structural issues in the monastery’s kitchen building mean that working conditions are challenging for the nuns, especially during the oppressive heat of summer. 

“With about 250 nuns and 20 staff to feed daily, the kitchen at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute is the most heavily used part of the nunnery complex,” the TNP said in an announcement shared with BDG. “The Dolma Ling nuns urgently need help to improve the ventilation, gutters, and roof of the kitchen so that the kitchen can function smoothly. The work must be completed before the onset of the heavy monsoon rains and the summer heat. Last June, the temperature in Dharamsala reached 105°F or 41°C. Inside the Dolma Ling kitchen, it was hotter!”

Nuns on kitchen duty at Dolma Ling. Image courtesy of the TNP
Hot work in the kitchen of Dolma Ling. Image courtesy of the TNP

Inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2005, Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute of Buddhist Dialectics is located in Kangra Valley near Dharamsala in northern India. The nunnery was the first institute dedicated to higher Buddhist education for Tibetan Buddhist nuns from all traditions, and is fully funded by the TNP.

Some 250 nuns are fully engaged in study, practice, and nunnery work at Dolma Ling, as well as organizing self-sufficiency projects, such as tofu-making and producing handicrafts. In 2013, 10 of the Dolma Ling nuns made history when they took part in the first-year geshema examinations.**

The TNP explained that cooking food for so many nuns requires huge pots on large gas burners, making the kitchen environment extremely hot and dangerous for the nuns’ health. 

“There is an extractor fan, but it does not provide sufficient ventilation. Moreover, the noise and smell from the exhaust fan in the kitchen wall are very disturbing for the teachers who live in the building adjacent to the kitchen,” the TNP noted. “During the monsoon, heavy rains sometimes overflow the gutters between the original roof and the roof extension. Water pours into the kitchen, distressing the nuns working below.”

The plan is to dismantle the existing sloping roof and have a flat roof area where the solar panels can be more easily accessed. Image courtesy of the TNP
In part due to climate change, there is an urgent need for improved ventilation in the kitchen for the safety and well-being of the nuns. Image courtesy of the TNP

The nuns at Dolma Ling are therefore hoping to replace the kitchen’s old slate roof with a flat concrete roof in order to avoid leaks and water ingresses. A flat rooftop could also serve a multitude of other uses, such as a space for food preparation, additional outdoor seating, for drying laundry, and so on. The TNP has estimated a renovation budget of US$53,800 to dismantle the existing sloping slate roof, raise the walls of the kitchen building, and to install a steel box pillar-and-beam structure to create a strong but lightweight frame for a flat concrete roof.

“The plan for this renovation includes removing the old pressed steel-framed and wooden-shuttered windows, which provide insufficient ventilation and are also very difficult to maintain,” the TNP said. “The windows will be replaced with larger UPVC windows with sliding glass-and-mesh shutters. The ground-level sink used for cleaning the big cooking pots will also be made larger.

“Our architects have agreed to make a plan to improve the use of the kitchen area. At present the cooking takes place against the walls and utensils racks are placed up against the windows. The centre of the kitchen is generally unused. Our aim is to work with the nuns to providing a much more congenial working area.”

The Tibetan Nuns Project provides education and humanitarian aid to refugee nuns from Tibet and Himalayan regions of India. Established under the auspices of the Tibetan Women’s Association and the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration, the TNP supports hundreds of nuns from all Tibetan Buddhist lineages and seven nunneries. Many of the nuns are refugees from Tibet, but the organization also reaches out to the Himalayan border areas of India, where women and girls have little access to education and religious training.

Click here for information about supporting the Tibetan Nuns Project

* Tibetan Nuns Project Announces Fundraising Success for Dolma Ling Nunnery (BDG)

** Dalai Lama Awards Historic Geshema Degrees to 20 Nuns and Twenty Tibetan Nuns Make History by Passing Geshema Degree (BDG)

See more

Tibetan Nuns Project
Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute (Tibetan Nuns Project)

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