Nesar Gompa of Bijer
Coordinates of the site: 29°27’8.06” northern latitude and 82°54’51.36” eastern longitude, at an altitude of 3838 meters.
The Nesar Gompa is located on the west side of the village of Bijer (Bicher/ Phijor/Vijer) in Upper Dolpo. It consists of about fifty houses, arranged along a small stream which descends from the direction of the “Purple Mountain” and flows into the Shey river about two miles below Samling. The foundation of the gompa goes back at least to the 12th century. The collection of Tibetan illuminated manuscripts which have been preserved here, is exceptional in quality and quantity.
Surrounded by a group of houses and chörten of different construction periods, the gompa can be easily recognized by its typical red painted walls. Through a project named Revival of Vijer the Nesar Gompa was restored between 2001-2005, with new space for the library on the first floor of the gompa and a community house, which was directly attached on the north-eastern wall of the gompa. In the years 2005-2009 a hospital was constructed on the southwest side, which now ensures medical care in the region.
Built on a brick pedestal, the formerly free standing gompa measures 9.35 metres along the south-east façade, 12.00 metres along the opposite north-west façade and 16.50 metres along the side façades. The entrance faces towards southeast. The layout of the trapezoidal ground floor consists of a six-pillar assembly hall (with three half-pillars on each side wall), a two-pillar cella and a narrow ambulatory around the cella. The interior is 7.60 metres wide at the entrance side and widens along its total depth of 14.70 along the central axis to 10 metres at the rear wall of the gompa. The total area of the interior encompasses 130 square metres. Above the two consoles which support the main beam in front of the cella, an older crossbeam with wood carvings and five lion consoles is situated. Another directly attached beam shows two Garudas on the end of the beams protruding from the cella into the assembly hall. These components clearly indicate that the former entrance to the gompa was located in this position and the assembly hall was erected in a later construction phase. Based on these indications, the reconstruction of the early building phase shows a 8.75 bzw. 10.00 metres wide and 7.90 metres deep floor plan, with a 2.00 metres deep space in front of the cella and its ambulatory, which was extended by an assembly hall in the 14th century.
In the centre of the assembly hall, a ceiling opening was installed in the course of the renovation, which allows an insight into the newly built library on the upper floor. The large window of the library above the gompa’s entrance lights up even the ground floor. The upper floor can be accessed through the community house.