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The Kalachakra Tantra Raja Abhishek – Buddhist Ceremony

The Kalachakra Tantra Raja Abhishek, an auspicious Buddhist ceremony, is celebrated every alternate year in various Buddhist centres in India or abroad. It is one of the holiest presided over by high ranking priests of the sect.

July 1994 was almost a landmark in the history of Jispa a desolate hamlet in the cold desert of Lahaul. It was unbelievable that celebrations on such a large scale could have taken place in this far and difficult to reach highland. His holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama addressed the massive congregation of more than 50,000 devotees of the faith, who had arrived from far and wide.

The word “Kalachakra” means “cycles of time”. The Kalachakra Tantra is a profound Buddhist system of teaching and practice which encompasses three aspects : Outer Kalachakra – the external environment, the universe and its cycles of arising and disintegrating, and our world system and its cycles of sun, moon, and planets ; Inner Kalachakra – the sentient beings living in the universe, and the cycles of sun, moon, and planets ; Inner Kalachakra – the sentient beings living in the universe, and the cycles of death and birth and internal flows of breath and energy ; and Alternative Kalachakra – the practice of purification undertaken by an individual so that ordinary death, birth and manifestation on both an individual and universal level, which are usually uncontrollably subject to the passage of time, become purified into the fully enlightened state of complete Buddhahood.

The Kalachakra Tantra has particular relevance for our world system. The Tantra was taught by the Buddha in India, two and a half thousand years ago at the request of the King of Shambhala, a place variously viewed as having been an actual historical kingdom which existed beyond the Himalayas, or as a pureland existing on another planet, not generally accessible, but nonetheless strongly connected to our world.

All Buddhist teachings are based on the Four Noble Truths – the recognition that every sentient being experiences suffering, the understanding of the causes of this suffering, the recognition that if the causes are removed there will be an end to the suffering, and the practical methods by which to achieve liberation from suffering, or full enlightement or Buddhahood. Within the Buddhist Tantras, the practice of Highest Yoga Tantra leads to perfect Buddhahood. The Kalachakra Tantra is a Highest Yoga Tantra, and as such is said to epitomize the apex of Buddhist teachings.

Looking out over the huge open space all around we were told that devout Buddhists came to Jispa village in streams, numbering anywhere from fifty to sixty thousand to participate in the Kalachakra Tantra Abhishek. The administration of Lahaul and Spiti district had lined up all civic amenities, medical assistance, transport facilities, law and order machinery and every other arrangement essential for such a celebration.

The barren slopes all around were dotted with tents where most pilgrims stayed. And for food, it was not only the community kitchens run by the religious sects, local administration and various monasteries but also the people at large of Lahaul and Spiti volunteered to cater to the guests. “It was an open door affair for the local inhabitants of Jispa and nearby villages”, so informed the village Pradhan (headman), Karma Choltan Tandor, “Rather we were so overwhelmed by this opportunity to participate in such a holy celebration and serve our brethren from far and wide, that we started making preparations months ahead, like stocking rations, fuel, utensils, beddings and much else ; sprucing up the houses, farms and the interiors of our houses on the whole”.

His enthusiasm seemed to be still at its very pitch as he started showing us around the place where tents were pitched for the devotees and the huge grounds in front of the monastery. The hills behind still supported a pole or two carrying the colourful flags, a solitary reminder to the still unbelievable massive event that brought a sea of humanity to this serene valley and with it was brought a message of love, peace and harmony to mankind.


Village Jispa is located in Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh. Situated at a height of 11,000 ft., on the Manali-Leh road, it is 25 km from Keylong, the district headquarters of Lahul and Spiti. Surrounded by snowclad mountains, Jispa is a quiet, thinly populated village.

The arid mountainous region of Lahaul is endowed with enough rain to cultivate lush green terraced fields to grow peas, potatoes and hops for making beer. Lahaul is known for its super quality potatoes.

The landscape is splendid with coniferous hillsides that give way to poplars and sprawling patches of wild flowers. The view of snow clad peaks from Rohtang Pass is spectacular. All vehicles stop for an overnight halt at Darcha.

About 80 percent of the population is Buddhist. Amongst the major monasteries known as gompas are Avalokiteshvara at Triloknath, Shashur Tayal, Guru Ghantal, Kardang near Keylong, Gemur near Jispa and Tabo ki in Spiti. Tabo monastery is stated to be the oldest. Its 1000th anniversary and Kalachakra ceremony were celebrated with much fanfare in 1996.


There is an air service from Delhi to Kullu. The airport is located at Bhunter. Private taxis and Himachal Tourism deluxe buses are available for Manali. Package tours are also offered from Delhi to Manali to Leh via Lehaul. Private tourist services also offer tours from Kullu, Manali to Lahaul with halts at two or three destinations including Jispa. The route is open from June to September.

Accommodation is available at the HPTDC Tourist Bungalow. Hotel Dekyd, PWD and State Electricity Board Guest House provide facilities to officials. There is a camp site too at Jispa, as also a mountaineering institute. One can make bookings at HPTDC Bungalow through Himachal Tourism office at Manali.