Faces of: Tasha Palkhiel Tibetan Refugee Settlement

The settlement is far outside the major town of Pokhara, west of Kathmandu Nepal and in the foothills to the Himalaya.

In the years 1959, 1960, and 1961 following the 1959 Tibetan uprising and exile of the Dalai Lama, over 20,000 Tibetans migrated to Nepal. Since then many have emigrated to India or settled in refugee camps set up by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Government of Nepal, the Swiss Government, Services for Technical Co-operation Switzerland, and Australian Refugees Committee.

Those who arrived before 1989 were issued refugee ID cards and benefited from de facto economic integration; however, more recent arrivals have no legal status and cannot own property, businesses, vehicles, or be employed lawfully. Many of these recent arrivals transit through Nepal on their way to India.

The largest settlement close to Pokhara is Tashi Palkhiel, about 5km northwest of Pokhara in the foothills of the Himalaya. The community is home to under 1,000 Tibetan Refugees in exhile; although the most senior population are the remaining who fled during the initial uprising. Jangchub Choeling monastery was created in 1963 by Lama Dupsing Rinpoche in order to meet the spiritual needs of the Tibetan and Nepalese population there. A small Tibetan carpet factory generates some income and jobs but is still economically depressed.

The Mayor, overseeing a village of under 1,000 residents. The Tibetan Refugees are Stateless Nationals which means they have no rights under Nepalese law. 

A Tibetan weaver creating hand made carpets out of yak wool. 

There were three women still working in this once thriving carpet factory. Two of the three are Nepali, essentially taking away the few jobs available to refugees even though the factory is on the settlement property. Obviously this is the reality of not-so-subtle political influence on this stateless population.

The carpets are for sale in the store and are of high quality and beauty. This small carpet was $700/USD.

One way to support such populations is to make purchases but the visitors to this community are few and far between.

Many of the young in this settlement were not born in Tibet. The seniors are some of the few remaining that made the trek across the Himalaya.

At the time of this photo in 2008 I was told this man was over 100 years old. 

Elders spend the majority of their day repeating mantras and saying prayers.

In 1963, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa asked Dupseng Rinpoche to leave Kathmandu for Pokhara in order to meet the spiritual needs of the Tibetan and Nepalese population there.

Families send their first born sons to the monastery at a young age to become educated. There is a time in the boys teenage years when they are asked if they want to continue on the path of the monastic life - for which they can accept or deny.

The village elders walk to the monastery to circle the room-sized prayer wheel.

Our host through the Tibetan Refugee Settlement. Visitors are welcome to enter the village on their own. There are home-stays and a small guest house for anyone wanting to stay multiple days on-site.