Ensa is one of the most important sites in the valley of Nubra. Situated across the Siachen river from Panamik village, the site is a crucial cultural edifice that holds deep functional value for the valley and villages around. Its Conservation will begin in 2021.
Ensa is one of the most important sites in the valley of Nubra in Ladakh. Situated across the Siachen river from Panamik village, the site is a crucial cultural edifice that holds deep functional value for the valley and villages around. It was built in the 19th century by Kushok Danma (a monk from eastern Tibet) as a protecting temple for the village of Panamik. It hosted a statue of the Buddhist deity Dukar to shield the village against bad omen. It is said that the whole temple was built by volunteer work.
The Dukar statue was shifted after the building started to show signs of deterioration and in some moments locals thought that the structure could have collapsed. The statue is now safely relocated in the Dukhang soma, in another part of the monastery complex nearby.
Ensa is one of the most important religious Buddhist sites of Nubra valley. Together with a set of extremely old Stupas (chortens), the site is considered as one of the holiest places in Ladakh.
It is one of the most widely visited temples in Ladakh by local communities and has been recently opened to tourism – which makes its stabilisation and restoration extremely urgent.
The dukhang yokma is one of the rarest examples of intact 19th century architectural structure in this area of Nubra. Villages related to Ensa Monastery, like Panamik and Phukpuche, have no surviving architectural structures like this one. The dukhang yokma bears significant traces of local cultural and religious history, deeply connected to its founder and the local village communities.
A preliminary study of the local oral history has allowed to reconstruct the story of this building. Thus, the building displays a high degree of cultural and historical significance, holding together tangible and intangible aspects of the local heritage which need to be preserved.
Ensa is also an important area in the religious and cultural geography of upper Nubra, considered from centuries as an auspicious and sacred site. Ensa means 'hermitage', and from the foundation of its first meditation caves, its function as a retreat has never changed. The wall paintings have deep religious significance both for the monastic and local community.
The cultural relevance of the dukhang yokma is also related to the celebration of the flower festival (Mentok stangmo). People from several valleys in Ladakh reach Ensa for its celebration every summer. The dukhang yokma structure overlooks the main festival ground where local dances and music are performed.
The dukhang yokma is particularly threatened by water ingress from the roof and basement. Increased rainfall due to climate change is a threat undermining the whole structure and its paintings. Heavy rainfalls might also cause water infiltration directly into the building foundations causing further shifting of the already damaged plinth, with consequent fall of the entire masonry structure.
The whole structure is at risk as preliminary stabilization measures are not enough to guarantee the temple's stability. Drastic measures need to be implemented including the reconstruction of parts of the stone walls to make sure the building will be stable and the inner structure protected.
The dukhang yokma's wall paintings are at high risk of destruction if the structure is not consolidated, conserved and maintained following a restoration plan after an adequate implementation. The site is connected to a single road which reaches a flat area 500m from the monastery. Therefore, it is still very difficult to bring any material or equipment on site due to the steep path that needs to be taken from the main road to the building. The site can only be reached on foot, making operations challenging. For this, it is of crucial importance to assure a plan to secure the structure as soon as possible as any measure that needs to be implemented might take more time than expected.
The local community has already been involved in the preliminary phases of documentation of the building and local oral history. A general village meeting was organized in 2018 where villagers and their representatives have shown interest in participating.
A team of volunteers from the villages related to the temple has already cooperated to the clearing of the site and securing parts of the falling walls again in spring 2018. It is programmed that materials available in the proximity of the site will be bought from nearby villages. Masons, carpenters, various workers and volunteers will be recruited again from the villages related to the monastery to foster local economy and involvement to the restoration project. The local community also involves the care taker monks in charge of the structure.
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