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Dear <<First Name>> <<Last Name>>,

Please enjoy some of the latest news from the highest and most remote retreat centre in the FPMT.

Included in newsletter #4 :

With every good wish from the LoveLawudo team: Ven Katy, Ven Khadro, Ven Kunkhen, Alison, Capucine, Simone and Violette. An international group of volunteers established in 2017 to offer support to Lawudo Gompa.

Zangdok Palri Temple to be built at Lawudo

Last month, Lama Zopa Rinpoche publicly announced his intention to build a Zangdog Palri Temple at Lawudo. A Zangdok Palri – literally ‘Glorious Copper-Colored Mountain’ – is a three-dimensional version of the Pure Land of Guru Rinpoche. “Usually a Zangdog Palri is three stories high,” explained Ven. Roger Kunsang, assistant to Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the CEO of FPMT, Inc. “Each level has a specific purpose. Rinpoche will build a two-story version at Lawudo above the cave. Rinpoche has a number of excellent art books that explain all the levels and details, and has been visiting a number of Zangdog Palris in India, collecting photos and discussing with artists and others who have been involved in building them.”

You can find out more and make a donation at
We’ll look forward to keeping you updated about this extraordinary project in future newsletters.

Update on the Lawudo/Charog water supply project

Anyone who has stayed at Lawudo knows that maintaining a reliable supply of water is one of the greatest practical challenges for residents and visitors. Various attempts have been made over the years to avoid the exhausting toil of carrying water up by hand from the spring further along the mountainside.

In April of this year it seems the challenge may finally have been solved by Ven Pemba Sherpa and his brother. An ongoing supply of water from Gyacho Spring (which is five hours north east from Lawudo) has been established using 2700 metres of underground pipe, dug one metre below ground level to avoid freezing up in winter. Here are a few photos to give you a taste of this arduous three-month project. Sherpa speakers may also enjoy this video.

Volunteer opportunities at Lawudo

Thank you to everyone who has contacted us about volunteering at Lawudo. We’ve been reviewing what is most helpful to the family, and are now looking for people who would like to stay for a minimum of 5-6 weeks during the ‘high season’ (October – December and April – June). Volunteers receive free board and lodging but need to cover all other costs including travel. The main qualities needed are:

  • Previous experience of living in a simple environment
  • Maturity and self-sufficiency: the ability to take good emotional care of yourself and deal skilfully with the issues that inevitably arise in a remote situation with few physical comforts
  • A personal commitment to Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the FPMT, with a special respect and appreciation for the nature of Lawudo
  • A willingness to work long hours on tasks such as doing dishes, cleaning rooms and filling water bowls

It’s also desirable but not essential to have visited Lawudo before. More information including how to apply is available at

News from Ven Khadro, the new resident teacher at Lawudo

Ven Khadro is an FPMT-registered teacher who at Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s request currently spends part of the year in residence at Lawudo. Born in Venezuela of European parents, she has previously led dharma courses and retreats in New Zealand, Australia, Colombia, India and Germany.

Ven Khadro will be travelling up to Lawudo again on 4th September with a small Spanish group of pilgrims, with another group coming to do retreat with her in October. She has promised to share the latest news from Lawudo in our next newsletter.

Group treks to Lawudo

"Trekking up to Lawudo is an experience of its own.  I experienced time very differently while I was at Lawudo.  It is a very uncommon setting compared to the modern world.  Because there are so few people who live there,  it is easier to feel close to those who also make the trek up to this unique spot.  I found it simpler to make a connection with others.  I've always been independent, but the quiet of Lawudo led to me to be okay spending more time by myself.  That was an important skill to take away from the trip."  - Reece Richeson.
Reece was the youngest in Ven Robina’s most recent group, and Donna the oldest! They are possibly the first grandson/grandmother from the West to visit Lawudo together.

A visit to Lawudo can be a daunting prospect for anyone who isn’t accustomed to high altitude trekking. This makes the two opportunities below extra-special: please pass on the details to anyone you know who might be interested in joining a small well-supported group, with the benefit of inspiring teachers, like-minded pilgrims and a custom-made itinerary based on years of experience in the region.

Ven Amy Miller has done extensive retreat at Lawudo herself and has been taking other visitors there since 1990. Following her first and very successful formal pilgrimage in 2018, she will be leading a second pilgrimage to Lawudo from 10 – 28 May 2020. More information including a detailed itinerary and slideshows are available at where booking is now open.

Ven. Robina Courtin will lead her fourth 15-day Lawudo Trek from Kopan Monastery to Lawudo from 1 – 15 October 2020. One of the purposes of the trek is to raise money and awareness of this holy place, and for each person who joins the trek, US$500 will be donated to Lawudo. You can find out more, including reports on Ven Robina’s 2017 and 2018 treks, at

Cruise for Lawudo Update

We’re sorry to report that Ven Robina’s 2020 Cruise for Lawudo is no longer taking place. Organiser Kristina Mah writes:

Despite a lot of initial interest from around the world, our efforts to promote the cruise through print advertising and online have not resulted in the number of bookings necessary to make the cruise a success and to raise funds for Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s vision for a Guru Rinpoche Pure Land at Lawudo Monastery in the Himalayas. We want you to know how much we appreciate the support we received for this project! For now, we will continue to think about other ways to raise money for Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s vision at Lawudo and we will keep you informed.Thank you again for putting effort into supporting Rinpoche’s vision.

The Lawudo Chronicles

We have just embarked on a project called The Lawudo Chronicles that aims to gather together stories and images of Lawudo from past visitors. Please contact Simone on if you would like to contribute to this project. Here is an edited version of an interview that she carried out with Sophie Labrousse at Institut Vajrayogini in June of this year. We’re grateful to Sophie for sharing these evocative memories from 23 years ago. 

A Special Place

1996 - Sophie Labrousse

The Pilgrimage
I had done a couple of Kopan courses. The first one was in 1991. It was during the Kopan courses that I heard about Lawudo and because Rinpoche was talking about it, I had this strong feeling that I should go there sometime.

In 1996 I was with a guy near Vajrayogini Institute. He'd been to Nepal once before and trekked around the Anapurnas, so I said to him” “Look, it's my dream to go to Lawudo would you like to go?” So we organised this trip together, which meant that we didn't have to have a guide. We wanted to walk from Jiri, as my motivation for going was to do pilgrimage. We went during April, so it was still quite early.

It was one of the most difficult things I've done in my life. I was so fit by the end of it, but what was really great for me was to see all the monasteries and the things on the way. It really felt like a pilgrimage. It really felt like every step was something special. That area of Nepal is incredibly beautiful, the rhodendrons were flowering and all the waterfalls. Just to be with the villagers and see all the Sherpas and to be able to imagine where Rinpoche came from was amazing.

The first place that struck me was Trulshik Rinpoche's nunnery Thubten Chöling. During the Kopan courses Rinpoche had talked about Zina Rachevsky, so everything just came alive. For me that was the gateway to Solu Khumbu, I felt I was entering that place. I was quite ignorant about the whole Nepal thing and was surprised to see how most Gompas are Nyingmapa and so this was also an experience of discovering Guru Rinpoche.

En route we stayed with the family of Pasang, a Nepali who teaches thanka painting at Vajrayogini Institute. He had given me his parents address and a tape recording for his mother who he hadn't seen in years. They had a guest house just below Namche Bazaar and it was lovely because his mother listened to the recording and she was really moved to hear her son's voice.

Arriving at Lawudo
The next day we went to Namche Bazaar, stayed another night there and then went up to Lawudo. Just like that! That last leg of the trip was really hard. I had a cold sore that was coming up, so I had no energy. I was completely exhausted. We saw this figure waving at us from really far away. It was Rinpoche's sister. She didn't know we were coming, but she must have seen us on the path.

We arrived and Ani Samten was there, looking so much like Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and there was also the little Charok Lama. We didn't know who he was at the time, we just saw this small boy in sort of yellow lay clothes. Immediately it was wonderful. They offered us fried potatoes - I love potatoes! She asked us if we wanted to stay and where we were going. So we introduced ourselves and said that we were disciples of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and could we stay for a few nights.

The Little Charok Lama
We would meet in the kitchen with Ani Samten and the Charok Lama. For me the big thing was the Charok Lama. Before she told us the story I already thought that he was a really special kid. Straight away he saw that I had a cold sore and he blew mantras on it. He was really a small child, only just walking, but he would recite mantras, "Wrr wrr wrr" and then blow on my mouth. He was so cute!

We would have dinner or lunch and before he finished his plate he would get up, come towards me and say, "Do you want more?" speaking in his language. It was the Sherpa language I guess, but we understood each other more or less. For a small child, he just showed so much concern. He was always preoccupied with how you felt and whether you needed more food.

He also drew stupas and water offerings and kept making mudras and chanting. He was playing like a child, but for me it was just mind-blowing. I'd heard the stories about re-incarnations, but I remember thinking, "If I didn't believe in reincarnation, well then now you have the proof!” It was really special to be there at that time.

Sitting in the Cave
At that time there was just Anila, the Charok Lama and ourselves. I mainly remember the incredible mountains, the incredible beauty of the whole place, and sitting in the cave. It was lovely to sit in there. There's a little place on the side where you can sit by the window, by Rinpoche's throne. I just sat there in silence, taking it all in and feeling Rinpoche's presence so strongly. I was trying to imagine Rinpoche there and his previous life as Kunsang Yeshe. It was extremely magical and moving. Feeling that you're suddenly in the intimacy of of Rinpoche and getting close to that feeling. It was really inspiring.

That was my favourite place, there and the kitchen of course. The kitchen was great. There was hardly anything there except the traditional stove, a hearth. Yet the food was lovely. They had all these potatoes and bits and pieces. I really really liked it. They had this tsampa dish mixed with potato, that was pretty strong, but just the thing you need when it's cold.

The Journey Back and the Lost Camera
We stayed at Lawudo for about three days, then went trekking to other places and then went back to Lawudo again for a few days on the way back.

I took lots of pictures of the Charok Lama and of Anila, but I forgot my camera on a stone somewhere on the path on the way down. I forgot it. I just left it by the side of the river, left it on a rock. Oh! So I never got to see those pictures. I was really gutted. It would have been great to have the pictures of Lawudo at that time, when the Charok Lama was so young.

We took a helicopter to go back down to Kathmandu from Lukla. When we arrived in Kathmandu I felt physically fit, but mostly I felt so full of that experience of staying there with the family, their simple life, and the silence. I think the practice was just to be there in that environment. It was really a great kind of teaching, just to live their life for a few days and listen to Ngawang Samten's stories.

I've never been back to Lawudo. Of course when I went it had changed since Rinpoche had lived there, but it was closer to what he knew, what he was born into and I like that idea of seeing it the way he saw it when he was young. It was really basic, but magical, and it had this feeling of being inhabited by... I don't know what. I liked it that way. But I guess for them, it must have been pretty tough living there. There was definitely a very strong feeling there. It's a special place.

Please stay in touch

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May Lawudo flourish and bring peace and happiness to the world.

With every good wish from the LoveLawudo team: Ven Katy, Ven Khadro, Ven Kunkhen, Alison, Capucine, Simone and Violette. An international group of volunteers established in 2017 to offer support to Lawudo Gompa.

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