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Travel: India's Little Tibet

February 3, 2010

Pilgrimage to the world’s largest stupa
Wave Issue # 170 (Nepal)
February 2010

Destination: Clement Town, Dehradun, India

How to get there: The Raipur-Clement Town bus
goes from either Survey Chok near Ashley Hall or
Sahranpur Chok. It takes you all the way into
Clement Town, but you should probably get off at
Clement Town Thana (the police station).

How much money to take: A few hundred IC should
be enough unless visitors want to shop for souvenirs.

What to take: During summers as well as winters,
chilly winds blow in this part of Dehradun. So a
downjacket and a cap is a must. A handy notebook
to jot down one's feelings, some snacks and flip flops are also advisable.

Since the exile of Dalai Lama from Tibet, many
Tibetan settlements have emerged in Nepal as well
as in India. One such is in Clement Town, home to
the world's largest stupa. The best time to visit
Clement Town is on Sundays, the reason being that
the Mindrolling Stupa is open to visitors only on
that day. Built in the image of the Mindrolling
Monastery in Tibet, the stupa stands at a
staggering 185 ft. While Maitreya, the future
Buddha, is painted on the façade of the stupa, in
the descending steps is the present Buddha, the Shakyamuni.

In the afternoon the stupa opens to visitors.
Young monks chant prayers in the upper tier while
older monks chant in the lower tier of the stupa.
At a certain point during the prayers all the
monks stop chanting and play instruments. The air
is filled with cymbals, drums and horns sounding
in perfect orchestration around the stupa.

The inside of the stupa is beautifully decorated
with elaborate murals executed in the finest
tradition of Tibetan Buddhist art. The stupa,
inaugurated in 2002 was constructed to benefit
all beings and was dedicated to world peace.

Around the stupa, there are many restaurants
offering visitors warm noodles and momos. The
owners are friendly and offer their hospitable
services. Souvenir shops have also opened up near
the stupa offering Tibetan goods. Smaller stupas
representing Buddha's travels are spread
throughout the garden, which is clean and
pleasant to walk. Fellow visitors are friendly
and spontaneously talk and swap stories of their travels.

Another must visit place in Clement Town is the
103 ft high statue of Buddha. Dedicated to the
Dalai Lama, this monument is only a few minutes'
walk from where the stupa is located. It was
inaugurated by the 14th Dalai Lama in 1997, and
even today the local monks continue to light oil
lamps. Upon looking down from the statue, one can
view the entire Tibetian settlement.

Clement Town is a beautiful place to visit,
especially during winters. Its quiet and peaceful
ambience allows for self-reflection and
relaxation. It is a very short distance from
central Dehradun and a must-go for all Buddhist pilgrims.
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