Monday, June 14, 2010

The Jonang Takten Phuntsok Choeling Monastery, Sanjauli, Shimla

When monk Yonten Gyamtso (see picture above) made his journey to India, he was only a young lad. Travelling on foot, in bitter cold and snow with a friend, he crossed over to Kathmandu, Nepal, via Lhasa, from his home town Amdo, in Tibet. It took the lads afull month, to reach Kathmandu, by foot! From there the two monks travelled by bus to Delhi and then to Shimla. The year was 1996, a year before the inaugeration of the first Buddhist Jonang Taken Phutsok Choeling Monastery in India – Sanjauli, Shimla.

The Jonang Taken Phutsok Choeling Monastery, is the only one of its kind in India, the other being only in Amro, Tibet. It was founded by Lama Jimpa in 1963. It was initially named Sangey Choeling. On 6th July, 1990, the monastery was gifted to The Dalai Lama when he visited it, in Shimla. His Holiness took care of it for seven years and in 1997, H.H. Dalai Lama in order to preserve the practice of Kalachakra or the followers of the six Unions, the intrinsic Tantra and the only school that preserves it in India and Tibet, he appointed H.H. Khalka Jetsun dhampa, head of this Jonang school. In all of India and Tibet, there are only two of these, one here in Sanjauli, the other in Tibet.

The Kalachakra Root Tantra, as taught to a few monks by Buddha on the vulture peak hill, from 7th to 14th century was translated by Tibetian translators and codified them as the standard translation. These are of two types: The translations of Buddha’s words, consisting of 100 volumes and the translations of Indianmasters’ commentaries on these which consist of 200 volumes. These translations consist both of Sutras and Tantras. The Jonang tradition is meditation of Generation Process and Perfection Process of the Six Yogas of Kalachakra (see below).

In the Amdo region of Tibet, there are approximately 60 – 80 monasteries with a strength of over 10,000 monks. In India, here at Jonang Taken Phutsok Choeling Monastery, there are about 105 monks and about 10-20 Cub monks(see picture), between the ages of 6-8 years who are from Arunachal Pradesh and Mon Tawang. Out of the total number of students in this monastery, about 30 are from Outer Mongolia.Here in the monastery they learn the Tibetian language, calligraphy handwriting, history of Tibet, epistomology, rituals, instruments for performing rituals, mandala drawing, religious dancing and chanting and of course the scriptures. The meditative practice course is three and a half years’ rigorous retreat of the Six Yogas of Kalachakra Tantra.

To reach Jonang Taken Phutsok Choeling Monastery from Shimla, take a bus to Sanjauli from Bus adda, or Lakkad Bazar. Get down at Sanjauli Chawk, walk backwards towards Dhalli and in less than ten minutes you will see Mata Dhingoo Mandir signboard. The climb is steep over almost 800 steps. Just below the Dhingroo Mata mandir is The Jonang Taken Phutsok Choeling Monastery.

You can also arrive there by car. However, there is no vehicular road to the mandir or the monastery below. Take a deep breath and begin your climb.

To reach Monk Yonten Gyamtso Email:
Cell: 0-9882702611/ 0-9218771798

Six yogas of Kalachakra

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Northbank - Rudyard Kipling's house in Shimla

“I don’t know who Amrita Shergil was.” “ Rudyard Kipling? I have heard of him, but.....” “ I don’t know. Was he a writer?” “Amrita Shegil? You mean Maharani Amrit Kaur?” “I don’t know....never heard of her”.

Sorry to disappoint you Readers, but I have come to a conclusion that we as parents, teachers and friends, have failed to disseminate knowledge on local histories to our children. Thus, we have produced a generation between 18 – 21 years, whom we can easily call the “I don’t know generation”. GenIDK, in short is characterised by blank looks every time you ask a question, inability to distract and focus on anything being said because most of them are cannot extricate themselves from their mobile phones. To add to this combination is also absolute complacency.

On my recent trip to Shimla, I found that most adults in that age group were absolutely ignorant of Shimla’s heritage. Or they just do not care! I feel sad that not only is the Government not really concerned about the many heritage buildings in Shimla, the youth too lack any motivation to preserve this heritage. The Viceroy’s Lodge in Summer Hill, which today is one of India’s premier Institutes – The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, is constantly under threat of being converted to a Congress Party Office as was suggested only recently by Sonia Gandhi!!

Rudyard Kipling’s house, Northbank, has been converted into a Police Office! Nobody there knew that it was at one time Kipling’s house. They did not even know who Kipling was!! Those who professed they knew, pointed out to any old house with a red roof and insisted it was Kipling’s residence. Remember, dear Reader, it is believed that The Jungle Book was conceived here in this house. Finally, having spoken to a historian, I was able to establish the house, or so I think!

Just imagine!!

As far as Amrita Shergil was concerned it was truly pathetic! They had not even heard of her! No body knew which her house was, although it is situated very close to the Himachal University campus! The map in Shimla on Foot by Raaja Bhasin(2007) proved unhelpful in both cases. The text did not explain that the houses were taken over by others, in Amrita Shergil’s case Escorts (see:
--> ) and in Kipling’s house, the The Shimla Police Department.
I feel a desperate sense of loss as I leave Shimla. I am not sure that if I came back even a year from now, then some of the heritage buildings will remain the same.

Thanks to our own lack of interest to see our heritage being passed down and preserved by the next generation in ways beyond the study book.

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NOTE: @Hari Sud, who lived in Shimla has identified on his blog, the real house belonging to Rudyard Kipling, which readers may please view and read HERE  Thank you Hari for bringing it to my notice.

Picture sent on 12 June, 2017 of Kipling's dilapidated house

Naldehra - Shimla's Emerald beauty

The last Viceroy of India, the controversial figure, Lord Curzon may well be remembered for this beauty he discovered only 20 km away from Shimla – Naldehra. It was the end of the nineteenth century when Lord Curzon discovered this place and fell head over heels for the place. In fact, it is said that he would abandon the Viceroy’s Lodge in Summer Hill, Shimla and disappear for days to Naldehra, communicating and controlling his office by messages and heliograph.

The central attraction of Naldehra is the lush green Golf Course with 68 courses and 9 holes, the layout of which was suggested by Lord Curzon himself. The course is surrounded by wooded forests and the wide view is simply spectacular!

Lord Curzon was so besotted with the place that he named his youngest daughter Alexandra ‘Naldehra’ as her middle name.

Naldehra with her pristine beauty is not over populated with human beings. Except for the horses, their care takers, the Guides who wish to show you around, the transit visitors, normally speaking the place is just an enormous emerald green patch on earth. To reach there, the closest place (10 kms away) is Masobra, which is fast losing itself to become an extension of Shimla. It is only a matter of time therefore, that the emerald green muse of Lord Curzon’s life, will turn to patches of grey ugly buildings.

It is always best to walk around the mountain in Naldehra, in a circular movement around the Golf Course instead of talking a horse, on two grounds – animal consciousness as well as experiencing a lovely long walk around the mountain and doing a little steep climbing too.

HPTDC has its hotel in Naldehra – The Golf Glade (Tel: 0177-2747809, 2747739, Email:; Price: Rs 1600 – 6500 plus taxes)

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