Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik unveiled a 19-foot-high statue of Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, at Jirang in Gajapati district on Thursday.This 29 tonne stone statue is placed in the middle of ‘Padma Sarovar’, a large tank near Padmasambhava Mahavihara, the largest Buddhist monastery in eastern India. The Dalai Lama had inaugurated this monastery in 2010. Tibetan refugees settled in this region over six decades ago.Historians claim that Guru Padmasambhava, also known as second Buddha, was born and brought up in Odisha before he left for Tibet.A large gathering of Tibetan settlers along with their religious and administrative leaders were present at the function. The statue of Guru Padmasambhava has been sculpted by noted sculptor Padmashri Prabhakar Moharana.Addressing the gathering, Mr. Patnaik said Odisha was once a major centre of learning and practice of Buddhism. It is evident form Buddhist archaeological sites in the State. It is the land that transformed Emperor Ashoka to a benevolent king, said Mr. Patnaik. “Tibetan people of Jirang have become an integral part of Odisha’s socio-economic and cultural life,” he said.During his visit to Jirang, the Chief Minister also inaugurated and laid foundation stones for developmental projects worth ₹81 crore in Gajapati district.