The Department of Religion and Culture is a ministry office established under the executive organ of Central Tibetan Administration whose function is to overlook religious and cultural affairs in Tibetan exile community. It has responsibility of supervising works aimed at reviving, preserving, and promotion of Tibetan religious and cultural heritages that is being led to the verge of extinction in Tibet.
It began its operation in exile community as Council for Religious Affairs office on April 27, 1959, established by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and his government in Mussorrie. On May 30, 1960, the Council for Religious Affairs shifted its office to Dharamsala and on September 12, 1960 it became one of the five main departments when His Holiness the Dalai Lama formally established the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
It is now one of the seven major departments of CTA and a kalon heads this office. There have been 14 kalons who have held portfolio for varying tenure. The incumbent and the sixteenth one is Kalon Pema Chhinjor who took office on September 19, 2011 after Tibetan parliament in exile approved his appointment.
The Department supervises 262 monasteries and nunneries in India, Nepal, and Bhutan and looks after the welfare of approximately 39,479 monks or clergies living in these institutions.
In addition to above said monastic institutions, several non-monastic centers like Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, Tibet House, the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, the Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies, the Norbulingkha Institute, and Manjushree center of Tibetan culture which are working on preservation of Tibetan religious and cultural heritages fall under the purview of the Department of Religion and Culture.