The winding roads that lead to the Sang Ngag Choekar Dargyeling, or the Chillipam Monastery as it is commonly called, near Rupa town in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, will make you feel dizzy at times but the view of the monastery just before reaching it is worth the effort.
The view of the majestic Chillipam Monastery from below the hill is a sight to behold and I surrendered my senses this rare sight as soon as I caught it. The enormity of this magnificent monastery dawns on you only when you reach the hilltop and stand at its threshold. The colourful prayer flags fluttering in the strong winds and the lamas going about their daily routine have a strange sense of serenity that will leave you speechless.
The foundation stone for the Chillipam Monastery was laid by the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh in 1988 and it was completed in a year’s time. It houses a school for young lamas, where over 150 disciples reside for a period of nine years to complete their education. Merka, a Lama from Tawang who was pursuing his education at the monastery and was already in his fifth year, showed us around. Having called Chillipam Monastery his home for past five years, he knew the place like the back of his hand and provided us with some rare insights on its history and trivia, which made out explorations all the more interesting.
The Chillipam Monastery is a double storey structure dotted with carvings and sculptures of elephants, dragons and monkeys. A fine example of the intricate craftsmanship, exquisite mural paintings and a riot of colours that are the hallmark of these religious Buddhist structures.
Inside the heavy metal gate is the main prayer hall, with a towering statue of Lord Buddha flanked on the sides by his two disciples right in the centre. A picture of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, along with their religious texts written in the Tibetan language, also adorns the prayer hall. The walls are dotted with breathtakingly beautiful and fascinatingly detailed painting that takes you through the life and times of Gautam Buddha and his disciples.
I just stood there completely awe-struck by the beauty and serenity of the place and was shook out of my reverie when the clock struck one, indicating it was time for afternoon prayers. After exiting the prayer hall, we climbed up the stairways – there are two on either side of the main building – leading to the top floor that offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the spectacular Eastern Himalayas. It seemed as if the time had stood still and I could just stand there for hours soaking in the beauty of these pristine surroundings.