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Chandragiri – The Little Tibet: An offbeat destination..

Phuntsokling or the ‘land of happiness and plenty’ is just 80 kms from Brahmapur, in the Gajapati district, little Tibet in the Western Orissa, now called Odisha. This was one of the earliest resettlement villages. The Tibetan guests arrived on May 1, 1963 and gave their own name to a remote corner of a land that welcomes all.

Besides, Chandragiri Tankilipadar, Lobarsingi, Jiranga, and Mahendragada were the other resettlement villages. With temperatures between 40-80 degree Farenheit, this is hardly Tibet but sheer zeal and hard work has transformed this jungle into fertile fields and orchards. After a project to increase agricultural yield this is now the official “Maize bowl of Orissa”. Colorful prayer flags – carrying the message of peace and tranquility will welcome you. The Tibetan cooperative society of  Chandragiri now runs a handicraft centre, dairy centre, poultry centre, horticulture centre, health centre, mechanical workshop, an elderly person’s home, crèche, schools and Buddhist monastery.

The bus journey is uniquely Indian – people, chickens and the occasional goat share space. An hired vehicle is much more comfortable and convenient. At Lobersing, another resettlement village and bus stop you’ll find exquisite Tibetan wall mats, carpets, handicrafts and leather goods in the co-operative society factory. The superior will show you around. Just across the road is the village monastery. Young lamas jostle around – like everywhere in India cricket is popular while the elders rotate the “chakra” humming prayers, like gentle apostles of non-violence.

You can stay at the Society’s Guest House. Just two words of caution – protect yourself against mosquitoes and order your lunch or dinner early. His holiness the 14th Dalai Lama inaugurated South Asia’s biggest monastery – the Rigon Thupten Mindoling monastery called the Padmasambhava Maha Vihara at Jiranga. Chandragiri on January 2010.  A huge 21 feet high golden statue of the Buddha presides with statues of Lord Padmasambhaba and Lord Avalokiteswara on either side.

Incidentally Acharya Padmasambhava was the founder of the Vajrayana sect of the Mahayana path of Buddhism who lived during the seventh century in Orissa (place of birth was Oddiyana – some say its in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, some believe it to be Orissa) who is said to have transmitted Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan and Tibet.

In charge of the monastery Khenpo Pema expects an influx of foreign tourist and there is already a spanking new 10 suite guest house to welcome them all. Jaampa the chief architect ensured that the monastery has all the flavours of Tibetan architecture.

Nearby the perennial hot spring of Medicinal Sulfuric Waters of “Taptapani” is nestled at about 1800 feet above Sea Level. The guest house overlook a pristine valley. The Dining Hall is between two crests of mountain fold. You get an eerie feeling amid buzzing crickets in the evening. In the nearby Kandimata Mandir locals take a bath in the spring before offering prayers. There is also a deer park nearby maintained by Orissa wildlife conservationist.

All are invited to explore the offbeat destination of Chandragiri Tibetan Settlement and Taptapani Sulphur Spring Shrine. Have you contacted your travel manager yet, for more information contact metu@toshali.in

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