The Beginning


The year was 1996. The occasion was the Pang-Lhab-Sol Celebrations. The Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Chamling was the Guest of Honor on the auspicious occasion where thousands of people from different walks of life had gathered to pay homage to their forefathers and guardian deities. On this occasion, while addressing the mammoth gathering, which also included many religious leaders, the Chief Minister announced that his Government would construct and install a 100 plus feet statue of Guru Rimpoche atop the holy Samdrupste(Wish fulfilling Hill) near Namchi in south Sikkim for the benefit of the state all sentient beings. Those who heard the announcement were left awestruck. There was also a tinge of skepticism and doubt. Guru Rimpoche is the patron saint of Sikkim, so homage this grand was only fitting, but Sikkim had never tried a project so grand for an endeavor so philanthropic. The lack of experience aside, the sheer logistics were too challenging for most people to comprehend. The site was located on the hill top with no motor able access and the nearest town of Namchi was 8kms away.

 

There was also not a drop of water in entire vicinity. To construct and install 100 plus feet statue atop such a remote place, therefore appeared not only insane but a task impossible to execute. While many thought it a fantasy of an idealist, some other were less charitable and dismissed the announcement of the colossal project as a political gimmick. Majority did not take it seriously and subsequent delays in execution presented further opportunity to the detractor to allege that the ruling government was merely playing with the sentiments of the tribal of Sikkim, who are mostly Buddhists.

Chief Minister however remained unmoved by his detractors and their negative comments. In his heart he knew that he would see the project through, and if anything, the doubts in their minds spurred his determinations into a single minded pursuit of installing the statue of Guru Rimpoche for the benefit of the State.


Later, when asked what prompted him to chalk out such an immense task for himself, the Chief Minister replied that the day his Government assumed power in 1994, he decided in his mind to take some concrete steps to pay a fitting tribute to a great saint who had blessed Sikkim 1200 years back and whose teachings permeated not only the Sikkim’s ethos, but also had a profound effect on generations of people throughout the world. Through this project he also hoped to strengthen the religious foundation of Sikkim for the benefit of the state and its people. The Chief Minister feels that the mandate that brought him to power is not just to shepherd development in the social sector, but also promote, cultivate and foster the various religious and faiths that knit together the gloriously colorful social fiber of Sikkim. While he had initially thought of installing a statue of Lord Buddha, he decided on Guru Rinpoche, taking into account the relevance of this great master to Sikkim. He then willed the statue to be out of the ordinary and wanted it to be the most famous landmark in this part of the world, which the people would behold with the awe and respect that Guru Rimpoche deserves.