Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1949,H.H. the Dalai Lama fled his country in 1959. After a tremendously difficult journey across the Himalayan mountain range, H.H. the Dalai Lama and about 100,000 Tibetan refugees finally arrived safely in India. With the foundation of a new Tibetan Government in exile in Dharamsala, the Government of India began a major rehabilitation programme by allocating different settlements across India.
Among these, the Phuntsokling Tibetan Settlement was established in 1963, and is located around the remote tribal village of Chandragiri in Gajapati, southern Orissa. The population was originally about 500 people, and included His Eminence the Vidyadhara Terton Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche, and his followers from Kham and Pemakoe.
The settlement consists of five camps, which currently comprise a population of approximately 4,000 inhabitants. While accountable to the Tibetan Government in exile, the community is organized around the Rigon Thupten Mindrolling Monastery, originally founded in the mid 1980s under the vision and guidance of Namkha Drimed Rinpoche and later refurbished and inaugurated by H.H. the Dalai Lama in 2010, thanks to the generosity of a Western donor.
The settlement’s resources are mainly based on agriculture. While farming is done during the monsoon season, the winter season is devoted to itinerant textile trade with neighboring states. The settlement also has a handicraft center, mainly devoted to the manufacturing of traditional Tibetan carpets, incense, traditional tangka painting and ritual objects.
Humanitarian and Social Projects
The international projection of the community’s spiritual leaders, Namkha Drimed Rinpoche and his son, Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche, has attracted increasing foreign interest. As a result, an internationally coordinated program of humanitarian and social projects has seen the light under the auspices of the Ripa International Community.Three areas are at the core of the Tibetan community in exile needs, so that its ancestral cultural heritage may be preserved: health, education and culture.
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