It can be claimed without dispute that the 135 feet statue of Guru Padmasambhava constructed and installed atop Samdruptse (the Wish Fulfilling Hill) near Namchi in South Sikkim is the tallest Statue of Guru Rinpoche in the world. It took more than 1000 labourers and scores of experienced engineers and highly skilled architects and sculptors nearly three years to complete this awe-inspiring and towering statue. Hundreds of Kar-sevaks (volunteers) from different regions and surrounding villages also offered a helping hand to this prestigious project. More than 48,000 bags of cement and about 400 metric tons of Tata Steel were used for the statue which itself is made of cement, concrete and copper.
The statue of Guru Padmasambhava at Samdruptse is much taller than the famous bronze Buddha at Kamakura, Japan which stands 42 feet high and has a circumference of 97 feet. The Kamakura Statue was cast in 1252. The gigantic statue of Maitreya (Jhowo Jhampa) installed Inside a purpose built chapel in Tashilhupo Monastery at Shigatse is the tallest statue in Tibet. However, even this world famous statue which requires a flight of stairs over several floors to view the various parts of the body properly is also only 85 feet tall. None, as the records show, is as grand as the one at Samdruptse.
The project today stands as a testament to team effort. Earlier, His Eminence Dodrupchen Rinpoche had expressed anxiety over the possibility of implementing the project within the shortest possible time, without in any way compromising on the religious sanctity and artistic merit of the same. It is the collective effort of Rinpoche's Lamas and engineers who camped themselves at the site throughout the implementation process to expedite the installation of Guru Rinpoche's statue and ensure that the Structure, when completed, met all the technical as well as aesthetic requirements. Although the total cost of the project at Samdruptse works out to Rs. 6.76 crores, the statue itself cost little more than Rs. 4.55 crores.
While the civil works progressed, frequent consultations were held with Dodrupchen Rinpoche who gave a miniature copper statue of Guru Rinpoche to be photographed alongwith a graphic drawing of the statue and instructed the sculptors and artisans that the proposed statue of Guru Rinpoche at Samdruptse should be in the same position, pose and hand gesture.
The statue is designed according to traditional Buddhist ideals of statuary proportion and moulded as per the measurement and other details explained in the Thekcha composed by the great Vajrayana teacher Je Mephan Rinpoche. The precise measurement of every segment of the statue of Guru Rinpoche has been meticulously extracted from the original scripture. Everyone associated with the project was aware that when an image drawn by a Lharipa on a smaller scale was transformed to the proportions laid out for the Samdruptse Project, the errors multiply and the image proportionately loses it originality. To Check against such amplifications of errors, the team from the Dodrupchen Chorten Trust monitored each stage of the construction and ensured that the gigantic statue of Guru Rinpoche was proportionately and faithfully replicated from the measurements given in the Thekcha on the miniature statue. The Chief Minister visited the site several times to inspect the progress of work and even inaugurated a "Smriti Van" programme at Samdruptse on June 5, 2000. The Chief Minister had conceptualized the statue as an open structure which offered unencumbered viewing and guaranteed a powerful impact. Accordingly, the statue at Samdruptse is constructed without a covering and as a result the towering figure can be seen from as far as from the Nepal border, Darjeeling and Gyalshing. The people of Namchi are specially fortunate as the most famous landmark of this region is right above their town. Apart from the religious fervour that the Guru's darshan round the clock generates, the visual treat the residents of Namchi enjoy of the Statue in different moods at different times of the day and night is simply breathtaking. The glittering statue at sunrise, the master silhouetted against an evening sky and the dazzling night view with flood light thrown on the statue from its base are simply out of this world. Not surprisingly that even before the formal inauguration of the statue, people from far and wide are already making a beeline for Samdruptse to pay their homage to the great Guru and also to gaze with wonder at the engineering marvel with awe and respect.
With a project with so much religious significance in progress, miracles are bound to happen. They did at Samdruptse.
Samdruptse, as everyone is aware, did not have a drop of water in its vicinity. Situated much higher than Namchi, pumping water to the site would have been a logistic nightmare. Then, the first miracle happened. When His Eminence Kyabje Dodrupchen Rinpoche, accompanied by members of the Committee constituted to oversee the implementation of the project, visited the site for the first time and offered prayers, a Chu-mig (natural spring, "dhara” in Nepali) suddenly sprouted from a spot just above the proposed site. It is the water from this chu-mig which was used for the entire project. Now the Rinpoche is planning to provide a water reservoir just below the throne of the statue where gallons of water can be stored from this miraculous chu-mig. The monsoons, when work started on the project were ferociously heavy. The rains would, however, stop whenever casting metal for the construction had to be undertaken. The artisans and workers who laboured through this phase of the project are convinced that such favourable weather was divine intervention at work, the blessings from Guru Rinpoche. The Guru's blessings, of course, were present throughout the implementation of this colossal project. It has to be a miracle that not a single person fell sick or met with an accident during the nearly three years of implementation which involved more than a thousand labourers and scores of engineers, sculptors and artisans slogging day and night under scorching sun in summer and biting cold in winter. According to the in-charge of the Dodrupchen Chorten Trust, the winters used to be so cold in Samdruptse that they had to "de-freeze" some of the workers from the plains, but apart from some numbness, these workers seemed to suffer from no prolonged side-effects. All the workers hailing from different parts of the country and also from Nepal and Bhutan were unanimous in their belief that the services they rendered for the project was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them, the memory of which they will cherish forever. A reader of a well-known local weekly summed up the feelings of everyone when he said that as he approached the majestic statue of Guru Rinpoche, he was awestruck by the grandeur of the holy sight and tears welled up in his eyes and he felt himself elevated up to the heavens. He has offered his sincere thanks to the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling who had the vision to create such a marvel of spiritual as well as a historical monument in Sikkim which is there for the world to see.