Since 2004, a local Nepali community group, an American volunteer tourism NGO and an Anglo-Nepali architectural/engineering firm have been working together to restore the Chhairo Gompa, an historic Buddhist monastery located along the ancient salt trading route in the Lower Mustang region of Nepal’s Himalayas.
At an altitude of 2,680 metres, the Chhairo Gompa sits in a juniper grove on the eastern bank of the Kali Gandaki River near the tiny village of Chhairo. For at least 300 years through the middle of the 20th century, Chhairo Gompa flourished, serving as a monastic centre for Buddhist learning and art as well as the religious centre for the local ethnic Thakali community. Local belief holds that Chhairo Gompa, also known as Sanga Choling, was established in the 8th Century by the Tibetan Lama Sangye, but its origins are uncertain. Its existence in the early 1800s is confirmed by royal edicts issued by Bhimsen Thapa, Prime Minister of Nepal from 1806 to 1837.