Religion & Culture - Tibet's Heritage

August, 1959

a refugee camp for monks was started in August of 1959 at the Buxa Transit Camp which had earlier housed Tibetan refugees from Bhutan. It was able to accommodate 1500 monks and nuns from the four Buddhist schools and Bon.

The Buxa Duar Lama Ashram was built on top of an ex-British fort and former prison which had housed some of the leaders of the Indian Civil Disobedience Movement such as Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It is also said that the monks were placed in the house where Nehru was imprisoned and the nuns were housed in Gandhi’s prison.

11 Aug, 1959

The founders of the Tibetan Dance and Musical Troupe.
L to R: Chaknang Lhawang Tsering, Shoedrung Chichak Tashi Dorjee, Shoedrung Nornang Ngawang Norbu (the first director), Kashoe Bhartso Dorje Dhondup, Chaknang Dorje Rigzin.

On 11th August, 1959 the Tibetan Dance and Musical troupe which was established in Kalimpong with 26 members held its first public performance at the town hall. In 1960, the Tibetan Drama Academy was established in Dharamsala under the Council of Education. When the troupe relocated in April, 1961 from Kalimpong to Dharamsala at Conium House, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave the name Sherig Doegar Tsokpa translated in English as the Tibetan Music, Dance and Drama Society.


The first Kagyu monastery in exile, Rumtek Shedrup Choekhor Ling (Rumtek Monastery) was founded by the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje in East Sikkim. The construction of the monastery began in 1962.


In 1962, the first nunnery in exile was established at Gita Cottage, Dalhousie by Freda Bedi (who later became a Buddhist nun under the name Karma Khechog Palmo) under the guidance of the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa with Lama Karma Thinley Rinpoche as the abbot of the nunnery.


The first Nyingma monastery in exile, Thekchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargye Ling (Namdroling Monastery), was founded by Kyabje Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche with only Rs. 300 and with the help of some monks in Bylakuppee, Mysore in 1963.

Nov, 1963

The first meeting of the heads of all the Buddhist schools was held in Dharamsala from the 9th to the 12th of November, 1963. This meeting was attended by many senior lamas, tulkus, geshes, scholars along with representatives of the Tibetan Government- in-Exile and other elected representatives numbering around 60.

The meeting is considered an important landmark as it was the first step taken in exile towards religious cohesion and harmony and a united effort for preservation and promotion of Buddhism.


The first Sakya Centre, Tsechen Tenpai Gatsal Shedup Chokhorling was founded by Ngawang Kunga Thegchen Palbar Trinley Samphel Wangi Gyalpo (Kyabje Sakya Trizin) in 1964 in a rented hall, Pratap Kothi, and was later moved to its new location at 187 Rajpur Road, Dehradun.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama with chief guest M.C. Chagla (Union Minister for Education) at the inauguration ceremony of Tibet House, Jor Bagh, New Delhi. Behind His Holiness are his two tutors and Mrs. Indira Gandhi. On Mrs. Gandhi’s right, the first Director of Tibet House, Domo Geshe Rinpoche.

The Tibet House Society was established in 1965 in a rented building at Jor Bagh, Delhi for preserving Tibetan art, literature and handicraft.


In 1967, the Ts-rig Lob-khang (Astrology School established in 1960) was integrated with Men-jin Lob-khang (Medical School established in 1961) to form the Dro-phen Men-Tsee-Khang which is now known as Men-Tsee-Khang or The Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute.

Oct, 1967

At the meeting of the religious heads of sects, a resolution which was passed was the conversion of Buxa Lama Ashram into a centre for learning Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy for all. With this goal in mind, His Holiness the Dalai Lama approached Pandit Nehru in 1964 and this was realized in October 1967 with the enrolment of 108 students at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS), a special constituent wing of Sampurnanand Sanskrit University.


From 1959 to 1969, monks of Gaden Shartse were based in Buxa Transit Camp and in 1969 a total of 132 monks left Buxa for the Tibetan Settlement in Mundgod which was established in 1966. With support from local Tibetans and the Indian Government, the first Gelug monastery Gaden Shartse Norling monastery was re-established in exile in 1970.


In the 1970s, the Menri Monastery of Tibet was re-established by Lungtok Tenpai Nyima (Kyabje Menri Trizin) in the hills of Dolanji, Simla.

Nov, 1971

The idea of an establishment of a Tibetan National Library was conceived in the 1960s by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to house some of the rare and valuable Tibetan books, manuscripts and other artefacts.

The Tibetan National Library was named the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA) when it was started in November, 1971 at Gangchen Kyishong, Dharamsala. It began with three sections to serve its purpose as a cultural centre to protect, perpetuate and disseminate Tibetan culture.

6 June, 1976

On 6th June, 1976, at the behest of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, an institute (Tensheng Lobda) to teach metal sculpture making was established at the same location where the Lower Transit School had once stood. This institute was operated under the finance department of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and Pemba Dorje was appointed as the master sculptor.