Far away from the idyllic mountains of Ladakh which reverberate with Buddhist chants, Nirvana-seekers can now hear the sacred hymns in the city of temples as Jammu will soon get its first Buddhist temple-cum-cultural centre, adding another landmark to the city where thousands of students from the coldest region of the state come for studies.
Although work on the cultural centre at Channi Rama was started in 2006-07, so far, only a two-storey building has been completed for which land was provided by the government. The work got stalled due to shortage of funds arranged by the All Ladakh Gompa Association which has decided to complete the building. When contacted, All Ladakh Gompa Association president Shedup Chamba said the remaining work on the centre would be started soon. “The delay was mainly because of fund shortage. It is a huge building and needs crores of rupees. All the funds are being collected through donations. We want to make it a living relic of a unique Tibetan Buddhist culture being followed in Ladakh region,” said Chamba. Apart from a ‘gompa’ (Buddhist temple), the centre will have a conference hall, rooms for visitors and an information desk to give people a glimpse of life and religious ceremonies. It will also have a meditation room-cum-library.
The building has been given a typical Buddhist prayer hall shape which sets it apart from other structures in the vicinity close to the Jammu-Pathankot national highway. “For years, our students pursuing studies in Jammu have no place where they can assemble. They had to hire or rent costly hotels or auditoriums in the university to host social events,” said Sonum Dawa, member of the Ladakh Hill Development Council. Jammu has a centuries-old connection with Buddhism. Around 30 km from the city centre, there is a place called Ambran on the banks of the Chenab river in Akhnoor where archaeologists found ruins of the Kushan period which ruled the state in the eighth century. A gompa and living quarters of monks was found at the site. Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama had visited the ancient Buddhist ruins in December 2012, highlighting its importance.