The Largest Buddhist Monastery & Little Tibet of Eastern India
Little Tibet of Odisha and the Largest Buddhist Monastery of Eastern India: Jeerang, Chandragiri.
When China invaded Tibet in the year 1959,lot many number of Tibetans fled to India under the able religious and political leadership of their fourteenth Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) who was just 24yrs then.As per the Tibetan belief, the successive Dalai Lamas are considered to be the reincarnation of Avalokiteswar( who is none other than earthly manifestation of Lord Buddha himself).
By the last part of the 1960s, there were 30 Tibetan evacuee settlements in India. As of now, there are 37 settlements . There are 22 settlements in north India, 7 in east India and Sikkim, 3 in central India, and 5 in the south.There are > 100,000 Tibetans living estranged abroad in India since 1959.The lion’s share of them living in Tibetan refugee areas like Dharamsala and Bylakuppe. The Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement (BTS), otherwise called the “Little Tibet of India”. BTS is the largest and oldest Tibetan settlement ( having maximum number of Tibetans in a single place outside Tibet) in our country .
Present Day Chandragiri
Odisha’s Little Tibet( i.e. Chandragiri in Mohana block, Gajapati district , Odisha) isn’t that much known as the Tibetan government in exile running at Mcleodganj in Dharamsala ( Himachal Pradesh) or else Majnu-ka-Tilla in Delhi, however it has provided the Tibetans in exile , a much needed familiar home during that time of despair.
The Tibetan’s have named this spot “Phuntsokling”– which means a place that is known for bounty and happiness. The first bunch of Tibetan’s shown up in Chandragiri on first May 1963. Since their arrival, they have not just made Chandragiri and the connecting camps at Tankilipadar, Mahendragadh, Lobarasingh.
(all these places situated at a range of 4-5 Kms around Chandragiri) their home, yet through their endeavor and disposition added shading to the beautiful piles of the Eastern Ghats in this part of Odisha.
Prior to the establishment and subsequent inauguration of Jeerang Monastery by His Holiness Dalai lama in the year 2010, Chandragiri was better known for the entrepreneurial skill and industrious attitude of the Tibetans. That was being reflected by the quality of carpets they were weaving, the dog breeds they were selling, the quality of guava they were farming et c… The serpentine narrow track which leads to Chandragiri from Taptapani ( hot water spring, 26 Kms away) is flanked on both sides by agricultural fields, verdant hills, tribal hamlets, picturesque scenery and greenery all around. This part of Odisha is widely known as ‘ Maize Bowl of Odisha’ .Other crops being produced here are rice, ragi, guava etc. Significant fascination of Chandragiri now a days is Padmasambhava Monastery( named after Acharya Padmasambhava ,who is accepted to have spread Buddhism to Tibet in the seventh Century),
famously known as the Jeerang Monastery. It is the biggest living monastery in eastern India . It is a home cum academic Institution for around 200 resident Buddhist monks ( better known as budding Lamas)who come from different parts of India to be nurtured…
Fact File of Jeerang Monastery
Jeerang is the place which accommodates the huge Rigon Thupten Mindrolling Monastery.
It has been built in the framework of Atanpuri style of design of Nalanda by planners and architects from Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. Neighbourhood artisans and bricklayers have extended help.
The Buddhist Monastery located here is the highest in South Asia(It is 70 feet (or roughly 21 m) and equivalent to five stories high, and is spread over an area of 10 acres of land .
It includes a 23 feet ( around 7.0 m) high Buddha sculpture and a 17 feet (around 5.2 m) Buddha Padmasambhava sculpture.
Twice prayer time each day…i.e.at 5.30 am and 4 pm.
Visiting the monastery during prayer time is the most cherished lifetime event.
The monastery remains closed during 12 noon to 1pm.( Lunch time of monks).
The canteen inside the monastery serves excellent momos (steamed rice powder dumplings ) which I have experienced several times.
The preferred months of traveling to this place is from October to March.
How to reach:
Nearest railway station is Berhampur , situated 80 Kms away. Regular bus plying between Berhampur and Chandragiri. The district headquarter is Paralakhemundi, located 88kms away. Nearest Air port is Bhubaneswar which is 254 Kms away by road via Mohana .
Where to stay:
Accommodation can be arranged at TGH( Tibetan Guest House)near the monastery. Tariff comes well within 1000Rs- 1500Rs.Pure veg foods are served.
Other accommodation options include government inspection bungalow and Tibetan bungalow (tariff<500 Rs, contact number for booking is 06816-257428). Several other Pvt hotels located (<0.5 Kms) very nearby .
One can visit the nearby beautiful waterfall called Khasada( having beautiful sloping bathing rocks)
On the way back to Berhampur, one can visit the hotwater spring at Taptapani ( 26kms away). State government operated accommodation unit called Panthanivas is also there .
Do not you think that it was an uphill task for those Tibetan refugees to move from high altitude Tibet to low altitude Eastern Ghat range of Odisha leaving far behind their motherland ?? Regardless of challenges, for example, social, semantic , environmental and mental , the Tibetans emerge as perhaps the best populace in a state of banishment and are still attempting to get the freedom from China,that is their birthright.
Dr. Manoj Mishra