India / Places We Go

A Nunnery In Tawang: Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa (also known as Thukje Chueling)

How about those names? I was told that it is also sometimes called Bramdungjung.

As impressive as I found the Tawang Monastery to be, I was actually more taken with the small Buddhist nunnery that I shall profile below. The Ani Gompa (Let’s call it that for the sake of expediency) lies several miles farther up the mountains from the Tawang Monastery. And actually, if you look closely in the second picture of the post on the Tawang Monastery, you can just make out the nunnery.

Even more remote and less visited than the Tawang Monastery, the Ani Gompa, founded in 1816, has a special feel to it. Part of that is undoubtedly due to the drive up to Ani Gompa which is an experience in itself.

Even the locals come up to enjoy the views:

tawang nunnery

Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa

thukje chueling

The first view of Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa… Okay, I used the full name again, but I like the way it just rolls off the tongue, you know?

thukje chueling

The very first thing I saw when we pulled up to the nunnery was this nun pounding grain into a more easily processed consistency. I thought it was quite an image and the impression stuck with me for the duration of our visit:

Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa

This picture taken from the entrance walkway provides a better view of Ani Gompa. As you can see, it is much smaller than the Tawang Monastery:

thukje chueling

Our arrival was timed well as a significant Buddhist figure was visiting the nunnery when we arrived. I’m afraid I didn’t write the names down, so I’ll have to explain it to you without using the terminology… In Buddhism once someone achieves enlightenment they have the opportunity to enter the Buddhist equivalent of Heaven. However, some of these individuals that have achieved enlightenment essentially martyr themselves and opt to return to Earth to assist others with achieving enlightenment. I am not sure how it is determined that these figures made that choice, but they are very highly regarded by Buddhists. And one of them just happened to be visiting when we arrived. He is seated in the middle of the group located in front of the prayer hall:

Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa

After several more minutes, the group broke up and returned to their daily tasks:

Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa

Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa

Daily tasks such as scrubbing the courtyard:

Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa

Or cooking… That’s yak butter they’re working with:

thukje chueling

Or studying:

thukje chueling

However, a group of monks that accompanied the enlightened martyr (I don’t know what else to call him) stuck around and led a prayer and meditation session within the prayer hall:

Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa

Here’s a video I took of them playing some of the musical instruments:

After our visit to the prayer hall, we were served yak butter tea and were given the opportunity to see the living quarters of the nuns. Such as this bedroom:

thukje chueling

And this kitchen:

thukje chueling

The Ani Gompa presently houses around 50 nuns.

The smoke in the outdoor pictures you saw above is coming from fresh incense cedar being burned. It is quite a pleasant fragrance and added to the overall positive ambiance of Ani Gompa:

thukje chueling

This small building behind the prayer hall collects water running down off of the mountain from a spring:

thukje chueling

One of the shy, but very friendly nuns of Ani Gompa:

thukje chueling

It is a common practice for families to send one child in each generation to become a Buddhist monk or nun. However, the tiny donations received by the nuns are usually insufficient for feeding, clothing, housing and educating these children (not to mention the adults). Thus, the nuns must often work in the fields owned by the villagers in exchange for corn, wheat and other basic goods. It can be a hard life.


4 thoughts on “A Nunnery In Tawang: Brahma Dung Chung Ani Gompa (also known as Thukje Chueling)

  1. The significant Buddhist figure is Guru Tulku Rinpoche the current Khenpo (abbot) of Tawang monestary. “Rinpoche” translates as “Jewel” and, as you stated, signifies that the gentleman is a Boddhisatva. A man who has reached enlightment (the goal for all Buddhists) but has so much compassion that rather than entering Nirvana on his death he has returned to Samsara (the endless cycle of suffering through life, death and reincarnation) to help guide others towards enlightenment.
    Nice blog, hope you are well.

  2. Pingback: Paintings Of The Day: Brutal Buddhist Art | The Velvet Rocket

  3. Pingback: 6 Things To Do In And Around Tawang | Travel Guide - Prayag Holidays

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