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HindustanTimes Thu,10 Jul 2014

Govt restricts foreigners' visit to Palpung monastery

Gaurav Bisht , Hindustan Times   Shimla, July 20, 2013
First Published: 00:41 IST(20/7/2013) | Last Updated: 00:42 IST(20/7/2013)

The Himachal Pradesh government has imposed restriction on foreigners visiting Palpung Sherabling monastery - the seat of high-ranking Tibetan monk - Tai Situpa Rinpoche - spiritual mentor of the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje - who heads powerful Kagyu Karma sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Foreigners visiting the Palpung monastery have now been brought under the Protected Area Permit. In wake of intelligence inputs, the union ministry of home affairs had sought reply from the state's home department on violations noticed in the monastery.

In letters written to the state, the chief secretary, ministry of home affairs, had made special mention about the violation during mahamudra puja - performed during April this year.

Mahamudra is well-known as teaching within Kagyu lineages of the Tibetan Buddhism.

However, Tibetan Buddhist Gelug and Sakya schools also practice mahamudra.

The puja was attended by 263 foreigners, which included Taiwanese (74), Britons (27), Spanish (23), Canadian (19), French (18), Belgian (15) and the United States of America (12), while there were others from different countries.

On checking it was found that three of the devotees had been travelling to Indian on business visa, three others had student visa and others held tourist visa.

After the violation came to fore, the ministry of home affairs directed the state government to bring the Palpung monastic seat of Tai Situpa Rinpoche under the ambit of Protected Area Permit.
Under foreigners (protected areas) order, 1958, all the area falling between inner line and international borders of the state have been declared protected area. The home department had sought replies from the Kangra deputy commissioner, superintendent of police and the local administration in Baijnath.

The Kangra deputy commissioner had recommended that Palpung Sherabling should be brought under the ambit of special area permit and the permits should only be issued after permission from the home department.

The deputy commissioner maintained that the monastery was located close to the protected area.
According to the orders, entire Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Manipur and Mizoram fall under the protected area. However, in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir, restrictions are imposed in certain parts of the state.

The Palpung monastery in Bhattu village in Kangra had already been under scanner of the enforcement department.

After 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje was caught in a cash haul row, the police had seized vehicles registered in Bhutan, which was earlier being plied by the Palpung monastic management.
It was in 1975 that disciple of Tai Situpa Rinpoche donated land to his mentor for setting up of monastery. Tai Situpa himself designed the building and is built of modern material and finished in traditional Tibetan architectural fashion.

The monastery also has quarters for 500 monks. Besides, there are three shrine halls, six shrine rooms - all with traditional and modern monastic features.


Who is Tai Situpa

The 12th Tai Situpa, Pema Donyo Nyingche Wangpo, led the search part of religious scholars who discovered the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism


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