Coronavirus: Serso Kalsang, icon of McLeod Ganj, dies at 81

Tsewang Kalsang aka Serso Kalsang poses for a photo on Tipa Road, McLeod Ganj, India, on 12  November 2018.

Tsewang Kalsang aka Serso Kalsang poses for a photo on Tipa Road, McLeod Ganj, India, on 12 November 2018. File photo/Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

McLEOD GANJ, India, 15 May 2021

Tsewang Kalsang, popularly known as “Serso Kalsang“, renowned goldsmith in McLeod Ganj, has passed away due to Covid-19 complications in the wee hours today morning. He was 81 years old.

Kalsang had not been keeping well due to age-related issues for some time, and contracted Covid-19 12 days ago. He was brought to hospital in Dharamshala three days after the infection, but succumbed to the disease.

Renowned for his work as a goldsmith within the Tibetan community in exile, he got the nickname “Serso” (goldsmith).

He was born in the Toe region of Tibet, and escaped to India in 1959, following the Dalai Lama after the Chinese invasion of Tibet.

He was among the first Tibetans to settle in McLeod Ganj. Apart from his goldsmith works, he started the Kalsang Guest House.

Charity and social works were a part of Kalsang’s life, the most famous being construction of the Chorten (the stupa) in the center of McLeod Ganj, which has become a landmark of the village.

“All his savings went in building the Chorten, that even his children complained for leaving little for the family,” said younger brother Tamdin.

Kalsang handed over the management of the Chorten to Jangtse Dratsang of Gaden Monastery after it was completely built.

Another project the he materialised was the Toepa Kyidug, a building the he had constructed for the Toepa community, on Tipa Road. It has a hall and rooms to generate income for the community.

He was also one of the founders of the Yongling Kindergarten.

“My brother has built countless Mani (prayer wheels filled with Buddhist scriptures) in various places,” Tamdin said.

Serso Kalsang is survived by his wife and six children.


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