By Tenzin Sangmo
Hon. Governor Smt. Anandiben Patel on her visit to Mainpat Tibetan settlement, PC tibet.net
DHARAMSHALA, April 9: The Mainpat Phendeyling Tibetan settlement located in Surguja district of Chhattisgarh saw the visit of the Hon’ble Governor of the State, Shrimati Anandiben Patel last Sunday on an official tour.
The visit appears to be a part of an effort to promote the Mainpat settlement as a tourist attraction. The governor greeted the people and reportedly marvelled at the natural and cultural beauty of the settlement. The settlement with some monasteries located across the seven camps within a radius of 25 km is seen as an ideal tourist spot.
After visiting two monasteries out of the three, the governor in her address to the Tibetan public stressed the significance of Buddhism and its contribution to mankind.
The settlement’s Lhamo (opera dance) Association performed snow lion dance while the students performed a traditional dance to welcome her.
Patel visited the Tibetan old age home and spent considerable time with a particular family to understand the lifestyle in the settlement. The governor was presented with a Thangka by the TSO and Local Assembly chairman.
The governor said the visit was like visiting Tibet for the second time.
Patel suggested developing facilities for the tourist after visiting Tiger point and Jalzali in the district. Mainpat is increasingly visited by tourists within the state and from Madhya Pradesh.
Patel is the current Governor of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and former Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Located in Chhattisgarh, the Mainpat Tibetan settlement falls in the red corridor area, parts of India that experienced considerable Naxalite–Maoist insurgency in 2007 and 2013. The corridor spans ten states in eastern, central and southern India.
Established in 1962 to accommodate 1400 Tibetan refugees, Mainpat Tibetan settlement is one of the remotest Tibetan settlements in India with the closest railway station Bishrampur located at a distance of 75 km and airport at 550 km in Raipur, the state’s capital. The nearest town, Ambikapur is 50 km away.
The general topography of the settlement area is on a tableland at the average elevation of 3,500 ft above sea level and is one of the most fertile inland areas in the continent.
As an agricultural-based settlement, the Tibetans have switched to planting buckwheat mostly. In 2017, the USAID plan sponsored a multi-utility harvester through the regional co-operative office. There is also a plan to assist the settlement by starting a factory to process buckwheat to make noodle.
The home department of CTA grants interest-free and low-interest agricultural loans to the families in the settlement.
As with other settlements, many have taken to selling sweaters in winter and other hospitality businesses to compensate for meagre income from the rain-fed agriculture system.
CTA is still following up with the state for the formulation of Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy in the state.