Tharpa Choling Monastery
Gaden Tharpa Choling Monastery is a Gelugpa monastery which is
located at the hilltop in Kalimpong, West Bengal, India. The
monastery was founded by Domo Geshe Rinpoche Ngawang Kalsang
in 1912. History says that Domo Geshe Rinpoche lived in
Kalimpong in 1906 when he came to India for pilgrimage and to
collect medicinal plants from India, Nepal and Bhutan. At the
request of the Tibetan merchants and some Bhutanese leaders
living in Kalimpong to establish a monastery there, Rinpoche
instituted this monastery. Gaden Tharpa Choling monastery is a
non-profitable development Association, registered under the
West Bengal Societies Registration Act, 1961.
Tharpa Choling Monastery is perched on the mount of Tirpai
Hills. Established by Buddhist sect, Gelupka it is one of the
first three monasteries constructed in Kalimpong. Popularly
known as yellow-hat, this monastery also offers striking view
of the Himalayan ranges.
Tharpa Choling Monastery is one of the most perfect locations
for meditation in Kalimpong, the monastery attracts various
Buddhist monks and devotees. Pleasant climate, unpolluted
nature and cool environment make this monastery one of the
most favourite ones.
Discipline of the monastery
The monastery's discipline is based on the regulations laid
down by the 13th Dalai Lama in abidance with the rules of
theVinaya, the spiritual code of conducts.
History of Tharpa Choling Monastery
On the 1st day of the 11th month of the Water-Mouse year, (1912)
Mrs. Trinlay Gyalmo, (the sister-in-law of Rani Chonyi Wangmo of
Bhutan House) and her husband Bhawalolo constructed the
Monastery with a main prayer hall, monk's dormitory and a
private residence for Rinpoche on the donated 7 acres land which
was orange garden then. Mrs Trinlay Gyalmo also donated 21 acres
of paddy field for up-keeping valuable exhibits of the
Monastery. Rani Chonyi Wangmo sponsored for the renovation of
the Chinese temple, Gesar Lhangang and donated generously for
the monk's living. Gradually, novice monks came from every part
of Tibet from all different schools of Tibetan Buddhism and
joined the Monastery. There were monks from Mongolia, Ladakh,
Kinnaur, Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh besides Sherpa, Tamang and
Gurung monks. As of now, there are 55 resident monks of Monpa,
Tibetan, Tamang, Sherpa, and Gurung origin.
After the passing away of the Venerable Domo Geshe Rinpoche
Ngawang Kalsang in 1939, the senior monks of Tharpa Choling
Monastery appealed to the Tibetan government to take over the
administration of the Monastery. As the new embodiment of the
Rinpoche was yet to be found, and when found he would be too
young to take over the administrative responsibilities of the
Monastery, therefore, the Tibetan Government decided to appoint
abbot from Sera, Drepung and Gaden to administer the monastery.
The first deputed abbot of Tharpa Choling Monastery was Khenpo
Lodoe Dorje who was Geshe from Gaden Monastery.
The second abbot was Drepung Tsawa Khangtsen Mani Tulku. These
two abbots were appointed before the Chinese invasion of Tibet
in 1959. After the occupation of Tibet, the Department of
Religion and Culture, Tibetan Government in Exile appointed
Rikya Rinpoche as the third abbot and Serje Khensur Lobsang
Dhonyoe as the fourth abbot of the monastery.
Others shrines of the monastery campus
Lu-Khang, the temple of Naga
The Lu-Khang has a Trishul and the Naga of this temple is
believed to be a female. In 1994, when an old woman living near
Enchai Monastery in Gangtok was possessed by a spirit, in dream
she spoke out in very pure Tibetan and said, “I came from Tibet
with Domo Geshe Rinpoche Ngawang Kalsang to India and lived here
in Tharpa Choling Monastery campus. During the renovation of the
Congregational hall the workers and labourers dumped filthy
waste near my shrine and I could hardly live there as the
surroundings got defiled. Kindly convey my plight to Rinpoche”.
Rinpoche immediately ordered the monks to clean the surroundings
and forbade the labourers to go anywhere near the Naga Shrine.
Mani Lhagang is a prayer wheel which was founded by Lama Ngawang
Kalsang and it was located at the left of the Main Hall
entrance. It was shifted to a separate room when the renovation
of the Main Hall started.
Lha-Ten is the temple of the protector deity of the monastery.
It is located behind the main hall on the left and comprises
three structures, two in front and a white one at the back side.
The front Lhaten with ‘Tri’ letter is the temple of Nechung
Choegyal and the second with the letter ‘Kyee’ is the temple of
Tashi Woebar while the white temple at the back with the letter
‘Kyee’ is the temple of Jowo Ching Karwa. Nechung Choegyal who
is the main protector deity of Tibet while Jowo Ching Karwa and
Tashi Woebar are the main deities of Tharpa Choling Monastery.
Shrine for Shangmo Dorje Bhuti
It is said that Shangmo was once a demon who disguised as a
nomad woman. She was controlled by Sakya Gongma Rinpoche. Around
1902, Shangmo escaped from the Sakya Monastery and followed Domo
Geshe Rinpoche to Dungkar Gonpa, as Rinpoche also was the native
of the same place, “Shang”. There at Dungkar Gonpa, she was
bound under solemn oath to protect the monastery. In Tharpa
Cholling, the storekeeper ordered Shangmo to protect the ration
store room of Tharpa Choling monastery. Shangmo stayed in the
store room up to the renovation of monastery. Now her abode has
been shifted to Mani Lhagang with her special shrine.
Ge-sar Lhagang or the Chinese temple
This temple was well-known for Tao-Chen, the Chinese school of
divination through which future can be forecast.This temple was
once situated in Kali Jhora and was almost destroyed by
landslides. Later, it was shifted to Tharpa Choling Monastery
campus and situated near the residence of Domo Geshe Rinpoche by
Rani Choenyi Wangmo in 1912. A Mongolian monk interpreted the
soothing texts from Mongolian to Tibetan and composed a prayer
to propitiate Ges-sar the deity and Dakhang, monthly prayers are
offered to Ges-sar.