The valedictory function of 20-day training cum workshop on Stupa building & Conservation organized by Himalayan Cultural Heritage Foundation (HCHF) and supported by Ministry of Tourism & Culture Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir was celebrated on Wednesday at Chamday Monastery and Chief Executive Councilor, LAHDC, Leh Rigzin Spalbar was the chief guest on the occasion. In the workshop 15 masons from different villages were trained in Chorten building by Gyen Paldan Sonam of Lehdo and Tsering Tundup Tsamskanpa of Choglamsar, two leading and perhaps the only Chorten architects in the district and was of great significance in preservation and promotion of cultural heritage. During the workshop, the group of trainee masons renovated a stupa of Changchup Chorten near Chemdey monastery.
On the success and satisfactory achievement of the workshop, Spalbar congratulated the organizer and especially Dr. Sonam Wangchok, Secretary HCHF for his visionary initiative and selfless contribution towards the progress of the society and the region. CEC stressed on conserving and preserving old, ancestral chortens build with incredible faith and blessings rather than going for building new ones as they speaks of our cultural identity and are heritage not only for us but for the world and generations to come. In this aspect CEC urged govt., NGOs, LBA, Gonpa Association and people’s representatives at different levels to work jointly in preserving the important historical heritage sites and further asserted, “The ancient chortens have been neglected by the Ladakhis despite realizing their historical, cultural, emotional and religious values but tourism once again brought in light the significance of the age old chortens and the need to preserve them through conservation. This workshop is the foundation step and in coming times we need to undertake more of such works by initiating movements and generating awareness among the common people.”
CEC in his speech also made a request to have library in every govt. and private schools and to have books on chortens varying in levels of difficulty and translated in English and Hindi languages, so as to educate the coming generations about the importance of chortens and to generate interest in our heritage. The President HCHF Prof Gyshe Konchok Wangdus, Secretary HCHF Dr. Sonam Wangchuk also spoke on the occasion highlighting the activities and achievements of HCHF and others who delivered speeches were Councilor Sakti Gyal Wangyal, AD Tourism Sonam, Tsering Tundup Tsamskanpa of Choglamsar and trainee Gyen Nawang Yarphel. Others present on the occasion were scholar Thupstan Paldan, Councilor Upper Leh Gyen Nyantak and monks and people of Chemdey village.
Scholars and experts express concerns over the use of all kinds of materials while building different stupas today because the centuries old monuments, which are still in good shape and attract thousands of visitors, are made solely with the use of local materials. Yet they have survived for centuries despite being in one of world’s most inhospitable atmosphere with occasional heavy rain falls and snowfalls. The training workshop on Chorten building and conservation is a part of several successful and important activities taken up by HCHF in recent years. In today’s era of modernization and development, different historical monuments are being damaged while executing construction of roads and buildings and many historical monuments are at the verge of their extinction. Keeping this urgency in mind J&K Minister for Tourism & Culture Nawang Rigzin Jora had asked HCHF to come up with a proposal for training masons and to bring awareness about preservation of historical monuments which are the signs of a vibrant culture that has thrived in Ladakh for centuries despite harsh climatic conditions.