Repair eludes Ging monastery

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By VIVEK CHHETRI
  • Published 2.11.11
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Ging (Darjeeling), Nov. 1: The 193-year-old Sangchhen Thong Delling Gompa in Darjeeling is crumbling after the September 18 earthquake and the Sikkim government has taken no initiative yet to restore the structure.

The monastery was set up by Pemayangtse monastery in West Sikkim in 1818, much before the East India Company took possession of Darjeeling.

The September 18 earthquake has done much damage to the monastery with cracks appearing in the walls and the pillars.

Subin Pradhan, an architect, said: “The structure has been damaged extensively. Work must start immediately to restore the monastery.”

Even though the king of Sikkim leased Darjeeling to the East India Company in 1835, the monastery’s control was restored to Pemayangtse monks on February 28, 1879. After that, the royal court of Sikkim had been running the monastery till the kingdom became a part of India in 1975.

The ecclesiastical department of the Sikkim government is in charge of the monastery now. However, the head lama of the Ging monastery is deputed by Pemayangtse.

Local people say the monastery was actually established at Mall in Darjeeling in 1818 and was later shifted to Ging, 10km away.

The monastery is functioning without a head lama following the incumbent’s death in January. Phintso Wangdi, the son of the late head lama Phutuk Bhutia, said: “My father died on January 25, 2011, and no replacement has been made. We are in constant touch with the Pemayangtse monastery.”

Wangdi said the monastery had been damaged extensively during the September 18 earthquake. “I have been told by the Pemayangtse monks to keep the structure in its present form and hence, have not cleared the debris. Until my father’s death, the Sikkim government used to provide Rs 6,000 as expenses to run the monastery and Rs 5,000 to run classes for the monks.”

Pemayangtse monastery management committee member Yapo S. Yongda said there had been encroachment on the premises of the Ging monastery.

“The Sikkim government must take steps to preserve and protect our monastic properties in Darjeeling,” he said.

Officials of the ecclesiastical department could not be reached.

Wangdi said local people were trying to form a committee to maintain the monastery. “We want to preserve this place which bears testimony to Darjeeling’s history.”