Lhakpa Quendren | Tsirang

The Sanskrit school established almost 70 years ago still stands in Mendrelgang in Tsirang—a few kilometres from the gewog centre.

Since the 1990s, the school has remained closed. However, in 2008, the government took it over and opened an Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centre.

Today, of the remaining two single-storey houses, the classroom of Sanskrit students is being used for the ECCD centre while the small office on private land remains idle.

  A classroom of the old school is used as an ECCD centre

A classroom of the old school is used as an ECCD centre

Two structures—a one-storey kitchen and a two-storey hostel were dismantled in 2021 to create space for the children of the ECCD.

According to 84-year-old Lal Bahadur Gurung from Resibo, the school was built sometime in 1956. He remembers that initially there were seven houses for classrooms, hostels, mess, and offices.

The government supported the establishment after the local people submitted a request for a Sanskrit school in their communities. “Except for the Sanskrit school, there were no formal schools in Tsirang then,” he said.

Four pandits—Dhanapati Adhikari, Dhasarati Nepal, Pasupati Khandal, and Bolanath Adhikari, taught the students since the establishment until it discontinued the programme, according to Lal Bahadur.

According to him, there were some 130 students who learned Sanskrit. The students came from the southern dzongkhags – Chhukha, Sarpang, Dagapela, Samdrupjongkhar, and Samtse. They were kept in hostels.

The students, Lal Bahadur said, had little scope after their graduation. They either became farmers or remained pandits. “Some went abroad to pursue master’s degrees (acharya).”

“Those who wanted to practise pandit had to take oaths and were allowed to get married and engage in farming, but they could plough the field,” he said. “Those infertile and unproductive pandits were barred from performing rituals.”