Since 2012 I have made regular visits to Nepal. Sometimes we stayed for a month and sometimes just for a week. Our last visit in March was only 5 days long.
Next to Svayambhū stūpa are two white towers. One of them was struck by lightning three years ago and last year after completion of the reconstruction we witnessed the life giving ceremony of the tower. A very intrinsic Newari Buddhist ceremony.
As far as we could see on the news the recent earthquake caused the collapse of the other tower. It is unclear how damaged the recently renovated tower is.
Also at Svayambhū there are two monasteries. One was headed by the late Shamar Rinpoche and the other by the late Lopön Tsechu Rinpoche. Both buildings also took considerable damage in the earthquake and it seems that Shamar Rinpoche’s monastery requires a complete rebuilt.
Most of the shops and restaurants at Svayambhū appear to be destroyed.
The damage to the main stūpa, both in Svayambhū as well is in Boudhanāth seems limited to some cracks here and there.
There are many more places close to our heart of which we have no information yet. There is for example Chhusya Bahāl, an important Newari monastery which was carefully renovated with help from among others German funds. We have observed and participated in a few Newari ceremonies there and thus feel very connected to the priests and this temple.
Most of our contacts have informed us they have survived and are now facing the ordeal of getting their lives, their communities and their country back on track.
Many monuments have been completely destroyed and Nepal appears to have lost many cultural treasures for ever. The tremendous human loss is heartbreaking and the incredible trauma this earthquakes has inflicted will take a lot of time to heal; Nepal urgently requires the support from generous people around the globe who donate their money and time to help rebuild Nepal.
As Buddhists we have to be proactive. Many of us would like to help on the ground, but also many of us lack the basic training and thus would only be a drain on the already weak infrastructure. The best thing to do is find a charity with experience in Nepal and people trained to deal with the situation and make sure that they have the funds to help.
On top of that we make wishes for the people to have the strength and patience to cope with the difficult conditions in Nepal.
The advice of our Tibetan teachers is to meditate on Avalokiteśvara (Chenrezig), perform lamp offerings and, if you have the means, donate.
Every little helps.