The Incredible land of Kullu is home to ancient temples; a testimony to the immaculate craftsmanship of pahadi woodworker. Of late, the lost monasteries of Tibet under Chinese invasion have been resurrected in Kullu.
The Dechen Choekhor Mahavihara near Bhunter and Kais Gompa on the left bank of River Beas are two of the many monasteries that are being constructed in district Kullu.
Dechen Choekhor Mahavihara, Sharabhai Kullu
First things first! Probably the only monastery of Himachal that is called a Mahavihara.
Most of these new constructions are replica (almost) of ancient Tibetan monasteries which are now out of bounds to Tibetans. The mother monastery of this Mahaviahara lies in Tibet, the great Druk Choekhorling Gompa of Lhasa. The monastery is said to be built in the 16th Century.
As I was told by the Head Lama at the gompa, if ever you get a chance to visit Tibet, Gonggar is the place to be. Because that’s where lies the source of the lineage which spawned more than 300 monasteries across the globe.
‘De’ means Bliss, ‘Chen’ means Great, ‘Choe’ means Dharma, ‘Khor’ means Abode – “Dharma Abode of Great Bliss” is what it denotes.
The gompa at Kullu is located atop the hilltop that offers a commanding view of the Valley of Kullu. A little walk uphill and one can even catch a glimpse of the majestic Bijli Mahadev Temple.
There are student quarters and the main temple complex at the Monastery. Guest quarters are also available but they are mostly given to those who are willing to volunteer at monastery teaching classes.
The Head Lama, or the man-incharge during my visit was a guy from Kinnaur. He greeted me in clear Hindi and requested me to converse with him in Hindi only.
I have visited numerous monasteries but this is the only monastery that not only puts emphasis on conversing in Hindi but also includes learning courses in Hindi.
The main temple complex consists of a gigantic statue of Shakyamuni Buddhha, and statues of Green Tara and Rinpoche Padamsambhava of equal magnitude. The Buddha statue is 31 feet tall, that’s five times my height. The statue of the Padamsambhava is 21 feet high.
The construction of the temple started in 2000 and it took them nine years to complete the main temple complex. The student quarters and some other parts are still under construction.
A sprawling green lawn welcomes you at the monastery. It is forbidden to either walk or sit on that lawn but that doesn’t stop us cultured Indians to create havoc.
You can see uncles and aunties sitting on the lawn and clicking ‘My Best Honeymoon’ pics.
Nevertheless, a visit to the Sharabhai Gompa is a welcome change from the crowded menace of Kullu Manali.
The Curious Case of Caste Discrimination in Kullu
No matter what people tell you about Himachal, take it from me, it happens in our state. It happened with us in Kamand Village in Kullu, when we were about to witness the beautiful temple of Parashar Rishi.
Yes, we have not one but two temples dedicated to Parashar Rishi in Himachal Pradesh!
We all have heard of the great temple of Rishi Parashar in Mandi. O.C. Handa mentions Kamand Parashar Temple in one of his books.
Unlike other people, I work six days a week and that means only one full day to plan and execute my weekend escapades. Kullu being a matter of only 2 hours from my place, I always look forward to visit Kullu and explore the ancient wooden temples of the valley.
I got to know about this temple from Handa’s book itself and after much inquiry from my ‘friends of forests’ about the route, I embarked on a journey to explore the Kullu Parashar Temple.
Not much has been written about this temple in books and Internet has negligible information about its whereabouts. My primary intention, as always was to document the existence and story behind the construction of this temple.
However, this time I could not enter inside the village, let alone catching a glimpse of the temple. We got bogged down by a group of drunk villagers and unfortunately, we had to return from the entrance of the village.
Never before, I have felt so helpless and dejected. And I share this story with my readers so that they visit this temple but always in a group.
villagershumans blinded by faithfear end up behaving like dangerous animals.
The temple is located 15km off the National Highway 21. The road to this temple branches off near Mohal, which is a small village before Kullu on the right bank of River Beas.