The Buddha 108' project has been conceptualized and supported by the collaboration of three non-profit organizations; The Lamdon Foundation, The Linhart Foundation, and the Tibet Open House. This project is the first of its kind in the Kargil District and will serve to promote peaceful co-existence and preservation of traditional wisdom for the well being of humanity.
The project goal is to support the preservation and growth of the unique culture, traditions, language, sustainable way of life and architecture of this remote, tradtional Tibetan Buddhist community.
The motivation for the project was inspired by the three main commitments of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and his words.
Preservation of Tibetan Culture
"Down the ages, human beings have constructed monuments in religious celebration. Whether the participants were skilled craftsmen or simple laborers or contributed in another way, they created merit, the cause of future peace and happiness for those who came afterward. Such constructions have been the source of continued inspiration. The Jokhang, the principal temple of Lhasa, for example, remains to this day a major pilgrimage for hundreds of thousand of Tibetans. Here in India, the Mahabodhi Temple and celebrated statue it contains of Buddha Shakyamuni, are an inspiration to millions of Buddhists all over the world."
Mulbekh, or "Silver Hill", is the last Buddhist village before the bustling town of Kargil in the Mulbekh Valley in northern Kashmir. The altitude in this harshly remote area is 3500 m above sea level with temperatures varying fom -30 C (in winter) to +30 C (in summer), with over 300 sunny days each year.
In the past, Mulbekh was home to the King of Ladakh, and is, to this day, home to many sacred sites and monasteries. There are breathtaking stories about flying monks and brave achievements of kings in the rich history of this sacred region. The local community is strongly connected to their history and wants to ensure that their unique culture and traditions are maintained for future generations.
The Visionary and the Sculptor
Samphel is not only a gifted artist, chef, and carpenter but he is also the main visionary and catalyst for the Buddha 108' project. He is an active member of the LSWS in Mulbekh, where he is the head of the Buddhism/Dharma division. As a Minority Counsellor, he has represented his community and his progressive idea to the local government in Kargil. Samphel is proud of his Ladakhi culture and traditions and he strives to respect and preserve them.
Chhemet is the lead sculptor of the Buddha statue and one of the most respected Ladakhi sculptors. He is the son of Shilpa Guru Nawang Tsering, a distinguished Ladakhi sculptor whose statues reside in the Hemis and Thiksi Monasteries. In 1988, Chhemet was admitted to The Institute of Buddhist Studies where he studied traditional Tibetan sculpting and painting. Since graduating, he has worked as a sculptor in Ladakh and throughout India. In the last five years, he has been teaching traditional Tibetan sculpting and painting in Braunshwick, Germany.
The Design and Construction
The concept is based on the local community's need to have a place which can fulfill preservation and support of their unique culture and tradtions, while also supporting local economic development. The main feature of the project is the 108 ft (33 m) high Buddha statue on the roof of the monastery-type building. The first floor will house small private meditation rooms. The second floor is designed for accomodations for teachers, lecturers, and students. The third floor, will include a museum of Tibetan Buddhism and Ladakhi culture, and assembly hall for gathering of the local community. The Thron Gonpa, will be a sacred place dedicated to Buddhist rituals, and storing of Buddhist texts.
This building will serve as a place where the local community can gather for Buddhist teachings, public meditations, workshops, seminars, exhibitions an art performances and more.
The Lamdon Foundation
The Linhart Foundation
In 2014, board member from The Linhart Foundation had the unique opportunity to meet with the local community and learn about traditional Ladakhi culture. Since their inaugural visit, The Linhart Foundation has deepened and developed their relationship with the Ladakh community and helped in the planning, designing and funding of the Buddha 108' project.