Tibetan spiritual leader rescued, airlifted to Leh (Lead)

September 21st, 2008 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Dharamsala, Sep 21 (IANS) Tibetan spiritual leader Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorjee, who was stranded along with 13 of his followers in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul and Spiti district for 48 hours due to heavy snowfall, was rescued and airlifted to Leh in Jammu and Kashmir Sunday, an official said.”The 17th Karmapa was rescued this (Sunday) evening from Baralacha pass in Lahaul and Spiti district and airlifted to Leh by a helicopter of the Indian Air Force,” secretary (revenue) Rakesh Kaushal told IANS.

The Baralacha pass is located at a height of 4,883 metres on the 475-km-long Manali-Leh highway.

“Before the rescue, the administration air-dropped blankets and eatables for the Buddhists and other stranded passengers on Baralacha pass,” he said.

“The Karmapa is fine and in good health,” said Kaushal, who is part of the disaster management committee set up the state government after the torrent rain and snowfall.

The Karmapa, the only major monk reincarnate recognised by both the Dalai Lama and China, has been on a religious tour to Buddhist-dominated areas in Lahaul and Spiti district as well as in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir since Sep 8.

“He was on his way to monasteries in Lahaul and Spiti from Ladakh when he was held up on the Manali-Leh highway Friday,” Lahaul and Spiti Superintendent of Police Prem Kumar Thakur said.

The Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu School, which is one of the four sects of Buddhism. He is considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.

The Karmapa fled Tibet and sought refuge in India some eight years ago. Ever since, he has mostly lived in the Gyuto Tantric monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala - the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile that is not recognised by any country.

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