Our host, Sonam the carpenter, has a decent view from his rooftop over the Zangla Palace. Our volunteers relax in his courtyard reading or sunbathing after work. >>>The team arrived to Zangla
The 2013 season opened with the conservation of the Great Stupa of Shey that started a year before. >>>
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Csoma`s Room Foundation is an independent non-profit NGO, registered in Hungary, dedicated to heritage conservation, education and sustainable development, with volunteers in cooperation with local communities. We mainly focus our activity to the Himalayan region, where Alexander Csoma de Kőrös, a Transylvanian pioneer of Tibetan language used to live while collecting the words for the first Tibetan-English Dictionary and the Tibetan Grammar of scientific level.
How it all started?
We started up as a heritage conservation project in 2008, but soon realized that a complex approach is more adequate. Saving their local tangible architectural heritage means temporary solution only and doesn`t affect the life of the local community significantly. A multidisciplinary approach turned more successful. First we offered our help in education and finally ended up building a solar school to enable winter schooling.
A Himalayan village is still a fragile organic texture interwoven with traditions, currently affected by global influence through tourism, mass production and media, that needs to be addressed in its social complexity. It is much more than the sum of their material heritage. Through education and community study we got a cleaner picture of their needs and nonetheless on healthy ways of cooperation to our mutual benefit. The community understood more of our deeper motivations through the eyes of their kids, than through their owns.
Our historical background
In the remote fortified palace of Himalayan Zangla, Alexander Csoma de Kőrös a 19th century pioneer of Tibetology, wrote the first Tibetan-English dictionary and Tibetan grammar of scientific standard. His room in Zangla Palace, identified by Ervin Baktay - a Hungarian orientologist following Csoma`s route a hundred years later - and the neighboring shrine full of valuable relics are about to collapse.
In the summer of 2008 a group of architects decided to do some emergency interventions on Zangla Palace, in order to save the room where Alexander Csoma de Kőrös started to write his dictionary in 1823. Csoma`s humble open-minded attitude towards cultures - he learned most of the languages of the regions he traveled through - his slow way of traveling overland on feet from Europe to India, his determination keeps inspiring us even today.
Soon our mission was set: conserving cultural heritage, contributing to education and sustainable development, through local materials, traditional methods, and local labor mixed with enthusiastic volunteering and creative energy from the West, supported by dedicated donators.
In 2010 we registered Csoma’s Room Foundation officially in Budapest, Hungary, as a non-profit organization behind our activity.
Since 2008 every summer a group of international volunteers come to Zangla and join efforts with local people to work on conservation, to teach or to build a solar school. Our volunteers learn about the ladakhi culture through living, eating, playing and working together with the local community. This close relationship led us to do more than mere restoration works: we found ourselves teaching, offering scholarships and providing books and stationary supply to the local schools.
Our project runs on a micro-donation scheme that provides opportunity to a significant number of people to participate or support our efforts.
Csoma’s Room Foundation is focusing on the sustainable use of local materials, revival of traditional skills, promotion of local economic development and education. Many of us being architects, we are eager to develop sustainable contemporary architecture practices based on the local heritage, particularly in Zanskar. We are trying to avoid the use of high tech imported material during the construction in favor of locally available creative substitutes to develop practices
that can be copied by locals.
Please find the actual state of our projects in the News section. Your participation as volunteer or donator is more than welcome.
In 2008 the Kitchen Budapest media lab installed a contemporary artwork in the palace, thus ensuring a creative presence in Zangla, with respect for traditions, remembering Csoma, in a way that can be a motivating for everybody to visit the place and to donate for the restoration.
More about the Wheel
About Alexander Csoma de Kőrös
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