Buddhist Nunneries Deluged as Flash Floods Engulf Dharamsala

By Craig Lewis
Buddhistdoor Global | 2021-07-30 |
From weather.comFrom

As communities around the world face ever-more extreme weather patterns amid the growing gloabl impact of the climate crisis, Dharamsala, the winter capital of the far northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, was among many regions in India and across the world to be hit flash floods this summer, causing widespread damage and devastation after a reported 300 millimeters of rain fell in just 30 hours.

Dramatic footage shared by media outlets showed the violent aftermath of a cloudburst in McLeod Ganj, in upper Dharamsala. Cars were swept away by a deluge of muddy water, while multiple buildings were also reported to have been destroyed or damaged, and the local airport canceled incoming flights. Local media reports indicated that at least 12 people died in landslides in the nearby Boh Valley following the torrential rainfall, which began on 12 July and continued for several days.

The Tibetan Nuns Project, a US-registered charity based in Seattle and in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India, reported that four of the seven Buddhist nunneries that it supports—Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, Geden Choeling Nunnery, Shugsep Nunnery and Institute, and Tilokpur Nunnery—are in the areas affected by the severe flooding. Although the floodwaters affected the nunneries, the nunneries and the nuns themselves remained safe, the charity said.


“The nuns at Shugsep Nunnery and Institute are safe but the nunnery has had a power outage,” the Tibetan Nuns Project shared. “The power went out on 12 July to the local area and may not be restored for a few days. In Dharamsala, efforts are underway to clear up the blocked roadways and clogged streets after the mud gushed down the mountainsides.” (Tibetan Nuns Project)

With a population of roughly 53,000 people, Dharamsala is perhaps best known for its large population of Tibetan refugees, with numerous Tibetan Buddhist nunneries and monasteries located in the area. McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamsala, is home to the official residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the seat of the Central Tibetan Administration, all nestled in the embrace of the Dhauladhar mountain range. 

“The Nuns’ Media Team at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute have helped capture the situation through video and photographs,” the Tibetan Nuns Project noted. (Tibetan Nuns Project)

The authorities in Dharamsala issued an advisory warning tourists, pilgrims, and local residents to avoid unnecessary travel as 142 roads were reported to be blocked in Himachal Pradesh. Teams from the National Disaster Relief Force were mobilized to the state to carry out relief work.

“The monsoon damaged the water channels and lines that provide 80 per cent of Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute’s water,” the Tibetan Nuns Project reported. “As the rains abated on 13 July, the nuns, staff, and teachers from Dolma Ling worked all day with local people on repairs. Without these channels the nunnery could face an acute water shortage. By the end of the day, the supply lines were fixed and the nunnery was able to access the water that they needed.” (Tibetan Nuns Project)

The Tibetan Nuns Project provides education and humanitarian aid to refugee nuns from Tibet and Himalayan regions of India. Established under the auspices of the Tibetan Women’s Association and the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration, it supports hundreds of nuns from all Tibetan Buddhist lineages living in nunneries and elsewhere in India. Many of the nuns are refugees from Tibet, but the organization also reaches out to the Himalayan border areas of India where women and girls have had little access to education and religious training.

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