Perched on a small hillock in the center of the Kathmandu Valley, Svayambhu, with its majestic white dome and resplendent golden spire, stands as a beacon of light. Legend has it that Svayambhu magically appeared in the center of a giant lake as a beautiful lotus radiating light.
In order to protect the pristine self-arisen lotus, it was encased in a sacred structure. Visited every year by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, the Stupa is a living monument, a source of meaning and inspiration that awakens the heart's innate goodness and restores balance to body and mind.
Light of the Valley documents the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center's two-year renovation of the Svayambhu Stupa, a project that is traditionally undertaken once in a century.
As part of the renovation, extensive documentation of the project was carried out. In total, over 2,500 pages of project reports and 60,000 photos and videos accounting for even the smallest details of the project were created. Many of the photographs included in this book are drawn from this archive.
Light of the Valley includes both practical and scholarly material, guided by the view that renovations depend on the confluence of practical expertise with a scholarly understanding of a place's unique history and traditions.
Part I documents this process of renovation in a photographic essay that offers an intimate perspective on little-known methods of renovating sacred art and architecture in Nepal, including the traditional crafts of gold-mercury gilding, repoussé, and woodworking practiced for centuries in the Kathamandu Valley.
Part II includes scholarly essays written by experts in the history, art, and architecture of Svayambhu, which offer a broad spectrum of knowledge and rare insights into one of the world's major living monuments and its renovations.