Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Tibetan side of Dehradun

Did you know there is a small but significant Tibetan population that lives in Dehradun? I had absolutely no clue until my last visit to the capital town of Uttarakhand last weekend. And what a beautiful discovery it turned out to be!

Mindrolling Monastery, Clement Town, Dehradun

Before it became the capital of the new state, Dehradun was a sleepy town that people would flock to for a peaceful stay after retirement. It wasn’t very crowded and had a colonial history. Many of the structures from the British time can still be seen, although most places are now highly commercialized or in dire need of upkeep.


Dehradun or Dehra or Doon is one of the major locations where Ruskin Bond’s stories are based. The popular writer ran away from his home and it was here where he found new friends who took him in. I took a walk with the ‘Been Here, Doon That?’ walking group to discover areas of his childhood starting from Astley Hall, but were sad to see that none of the British era structures are preserved. Ruskin Bond now lives in Landour, just an hour’s drive from Dehradun so he could have the city in his sights at all time.

The Tibetan area of Dehradun is called Dhondupling Tibetan settlement and is located in Clement Town about 7 kms from the Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) in the city centre. It houses the Mindrolling Monastery and the world’s largest Stupa. Close to 2000 Tibetan people now reside in the area.

When the Indian government allowed Tibetans to take refuge in the country in 1959, Dharamshala became the centre of Tibetan Buddhist population in the country. This is where the Dalai Lama sits.



During this time the original Mindrolling Monastery in Lhasa was significantly damaged and most of the monks residing there had to flee. In 1965, a small group of monks led by Khochen Rinpoche began the process of re-establishing a Mindrolling Monastery after identifying land near Clement Town in Dehradun. The monastery now contains Ngagyur Nyingma College, one of the largest Buddhist institutes in India.

Later in 2002, a 190 feet high Stupa of the Buddha’s Descent from the God Realms, arguably the largest stupa in the world, was constructed and dedicated to world peace. There is also a huge statue of Guru Padmasambhava, the one who flew on top of a tigress into Tiger’s Nest ‘Taktsang’ Monastery in Bhutan.

We spent about an hour near the monastery, soaking in the colours and the pleasant afternoon sun. We couldn’t visit the interiors of the monastery or the stupa as it was closed for lunch but I have heard it is very beautiful and magnificent. If you are visiting Dehradun, make sure you add Clement Town to your list of must-see places.

The largest stupa in the world, Clement Town, Dehradun

I love the vividness of the colours at monasteries. Where have you seen the most beautiful monastery?

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9 comments :

  1. Awesome. We had also visited a nice monastery in Bylakuppe not very far from Bangalore...

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    1. Bylakuppe? Never heard of it. They are all so beautiful :)

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  2. Thanks, Antarik, for the wonderful pics and info. I had the idea of stupa but didn't know that it was the largest.

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    1. The official site mentions it. Basic Google search seems to agree with it. I don't have any other source to confirm it yet. :D

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  3. I read your blog after a long time. I had forgotten how amazing your writing is. Went on to read a few more posts after reading this. Made my bad morning at work somewhat better! :D

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  4. Antarik, the monastery is beautiful. I loved visiting it with a few of my friends during bnlf. In the month of August I had travelled to Leh-Ladakh and loved the monasteries there. That was my first solo trip and it was an awesome experience. Nice meeting you at the Indibloggers meet in Dehradun.

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