Buddhist
Architecture
in the Western
Himalayas
View from the southern hillside. Auer 2018

the 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 northern side of the village of Bijer (Bicher/ Phijor/Vijer) in the north of 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 temple 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 temple can be easily recognized by its typical redwashed walls. Through a project named Revival of Vijer[1] the Nesar temple was restored between 2001-2005, with new space for the library on the first floor of the temple and a community house, which was directly attached on the north-eastern wall of the temple. In the years 2005-2009 a hospital was constructed next to the temple on the southwest side, which now ensures medical care in the region.[2]
Built on a brick pedestal, the formerly free standing temple measures 10 x 16.5 meters and is oriented towards southeast. The layout of the ground floor consists of a six-pillar assembly hall, a two-pillar cella and a narrow ambulatory around the cella. Above the two consoles of the first row of pillars 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 original entrance to the temple was located in this position and the assembly hall was erected in a later construction phase. 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 temple’s entrance lights up even the ground floor. The upper floor can be accessed through the community house.

[1] The Revival of Vijer Project was initiated and founded by Mr. & Mrs. Pritzker and Mr. & Mrs. Roncoroni.
[2] In the years 2001-2010 a primary school with an annex school hostel were built in the village. 2013-2015 a cheese factory were built at the eastern end of the valley, which improved the income situation of the villagers. Informations of Tashi Buthi, Bijer 2018.
References
Heller, Amy. Hidden Treasures of the Himalayas. Tibetan manuscripts, paintings and sculptures of Dolpo. Chicago 2009, pp. 45-75
Snellgrove, David. Himalayan Pilgrimage. A study of Tibetan religion by a treveller through Western Nepal. Oxford 1961, p. 129

Site plan

Site plan of the Nesar Gompa. TU Graz/Auer 2018

Photo documentation

View from the southern mountain range. Auer 2018

View from the southern mountain range. Auer 2018

South-eastern view of the Nesar Temple with the new hospial next to it. Auer 2018

North-western view of the Nesar Temple. Auer 2018

North-western view of the Nesar Temple, between the new community house and the hospital. Auer 2018

Eastern view of the Nesar Temple and the community house. Auer 2018

North-eastern view of the Nesar Temple with the community house in front. Auer 2018

South-western facade of the Nesar Temple. Auer 2018

North-western view of the Nesar Temple before the restoration. Amy Heller 2003.

Interior decoration

View to the cella on the ground floor inside the Nesar temple. Auer 2018

Lion consoles and Garudas above the cross beam in front of the cella. Auer 2018

Entrance to the passage that leads around the cella. Auer 2018


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