Paralakhemundi (Orissa): A new monastery, described as south Asia`s biggest, was inaugurated by the Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama at a Tibetan settlement at Chandragiri in Orissa`s Gajapati district on Tuesday.
The spiritual leader, on a four-day visit to the state, conducted the consecration ceremony before unveiling the monastery, built at a cost of Rs eight crore, in the presence of around 300 Buddhist Lamas.
The Dalai Lama, on his ninth visit here, prostrated before the 21-foot high Buddha idol installed in the shrine and offered prayers before addressing the devotees in Tibetan language.
About 2,500 guests from across the world witnessed the opening of the monastery spread over an area of 10 acres and constructed in the Atanpuri style of architecture of Nalanda.
The monastery, named after Acharya Padmasambhav who was born in Orissa and believed to have spread Buddhism to Tibet in the 7th century, is an architectural marvel and a dream project of Tibetans in exile settled in Orissa.
Architects from Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan besides local masons took over six years to build it.
The monastery is likely to act as a link between Orissa`s history and the Buddhist tradition. During the 7th and 10th centuries, Orissa was considered the cradle of Vajrayana Buddhism or Tantrik Buddhism, known as Tantrayana.
In view of growing Maoist activity in Gajapati district, security was tightened in the area for the Dalai Lama`s visit under direct supervision of top police officials, police said.
The Nobel Laureate had last visited the Tibetan settlement in 2003.
Besides inaugurating the monastery, the Dalai Lama is slated to address students and Tibetan people and also witness the cultural programmes to be staged by the locals at Chandragiri, religious chief of Chandragiri settlement, Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche said.
Recognised as a tourist site, the monastery is already thronged by tourists, he said. Domestic and international tourism is beginning to flourish with the `Rigon Thupten Mindorling Monastery` becoming a vital and positive economic force for surrounding communities.
By providing employment to locals and Tibetans, the monastery would play a major role in the economic development of the region besides becoming a source of income for several non-government societies, he said.
The Dalai Lama is expected to deliver a public address here on January 14, sources said.