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The Chhairo Gompa Project, Chhairo, Nepal

The Chhairo Gompa is a Tibetan-style Buddhist monastery built in the 1600s. Located along the Annapurna Trail, it is in the region known as Lower Mustang, which was once the religious center of the Takhali people. When the Chinese government closed the border to Tibet in the 1960s, the Nepali salt traders were forced to relocate their families, and the villages along the trade route met with economic hardship. As a result, the Chhairo Gompa fell into poverty and disrepair. The last of the resident monks left Chhairo in the 1970s and the fate of the gompa was left to the elements and to a handful of villagers.

Restoration Works International, with the help of the community, our local partners and volunteers, is working to restore the gompa as an operating monastery and traditional arts center. When complete, it will once again take its place as the focal point of the area as RWI expands our program here. This restoration provides ongoing jobs and income for the local people in the form of construction work, cottage industries, tourism, and maintenance. As the monastery begins to prosper and grow, so will the community’s fortunes, along with a connection to its heritage. You can be a part of this exciting transformation.

The Area

It’s hard to imagine a more stunning setting. Located in the grandeur of the Kali Gandhaki Valley, the gompa is nestled in a grove of pine trees. We reach the site each morning on a 10-minute walk from our guesthouse, down the famous Annapurna Trail, crossing a suspension bridge over the Kali Gandhaki River. The nearby village of Marpha, the Apple Capital of Nepal, is among the most picturesque in this region. You will also have the opportunity to:
   • Work with the renowned restoration architecture team of John Sanday Associates
   • Learn about Buddhist culture;

   • Visit the local brandy factory and taste a variety of brandies;

   • Participate in festivals;
   • Enjoy everything from easy walks to strenuous treks;

 . • Help farmers with their harvests
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The Work

No experience or special skills are needed to join an RWI trip. The local team on site includes architects, masons and carpenters along with a group of manual laborers. The majority of the team has been employed on the project since its inception. Whenever possible we reuse existing materials in order to maintain the integrity of the structure while completing the project in the most cost-effective manner. An estimated 75 percent of the structure is built from repurposed materials.

You'll participate in a variety of jobs during your time on-site. These may include:
• patching and plastering temple walls
• securing and cleaning the ancient paintings inside the temple
•  rebuilding a roof and adding a stone parapet and copper cupolas
•  laying slate to create a newly paved courtyard
•  disassembling walls
•  cleaning and unearthing carved woodwork and temple relics
• rebuilding structures using traditional materials of stone, mud, timber and copper
• manual labor: hauling wood and stone, sifting dirt and mixing cow dung for plaster.

If you have a special construction skill, please let us know. We are also interested to hear if you have skill in photography, sketching or video work.

 


Anyone from any background can participate! For more information about this program check out the Itinerary and Trip Info. Sign up now to get started on the experience of a lifetime!

Can't go? Donate today to help make a difference in our restoration projects.

   
 

Chhairo Accommodations

• Comfortable family-run guesthouse.
• Rooms are double occupancy with en suite bathrooms with hot water.
• There is electricity, although in this area it can be spotty.
• We eat breakfast and dinner here.

Morning outside Chhairo

   
 
 
               
Restoration Works International (formerly Cultural Restoration Tourism Project) is a 501(c)3 organization.