10 Magnificent Monasteries in India
It was in a town in Bihar known as Bodh Gaya that Gautama Buddha is said to have attained “enlightenment”. It was while sitting under the “Bodhi Tree” that he is said to have gained knowledge which led to the creation of a religion known as “Buddhism”. It therefore is not surprising that there exist a number of Buddhist monasteries throughout India. However, there are a few that are extremely beautiful as well as ‘religiously significant’, and hence are a ‘must visit‘. So, here is presenting an exclusive list of 10 magnificent Buddhist Monasteries in the country that are definite worth visiting.
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a. Hemis Monastery, Ladakh:
Situated at a distance of about 44 km from the picturesque Leh valley, is a beautiful Buddhist monastery known as Hemis. Located in Ladakh, this monastery is said to have been established as early as the 11th century. It was in the year 1672 that the king of Ladakh Sengge Namgyal renovated this monastery. Furthermore, this monastery is supposedly the “richest” in the entire Ladakh region. In addition, this monastery is known for a festival that pays tribute to Lord Padmasambhava. It is mainly celebrated with great fanfare in the months of June-July during which the Buddhist followers in the region dress up in ethnic clothes. A dance that involves the use of “mask” is one of the main attractions of the festival. And so, it is due to its rich historical significance and renowned annual festival that makes Hemis is one among a few Monasteries in India worth visiting.
Map of Hemis Monastery, Ladakh
b. Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh:
“11,800 feet above sea level” is the altitude at which the Thiksey Monastery located in Ladakh is elevated at. It is the magnificent architecture that is the standout feature of this monastery that is situated at a distance of 20 km from Leh. Furthermore, this monastery was constructed during the mid 15th century by Pladen Sangpo. According to a popular legend, this monastery was built on the site it currently stands because a couple of missing ceremonial plates that were stolen by a crow were found in the Thiksey region. Apart from its magnificent architecture this monastery also comprises of a number of Buddhist statues, scripts, stupas, and paintings. It is therefore a mixture of architectural beauty and cultural significance that makes Thiksey one among a few Monasteries in India worth a visit.
Map of Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh
c. Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery, Karnataka:
Founded by Pema Norbu Rinpoche is a monastery located in the state of Karnataka known as Namdroling Nyingmapa. Situated in the Mysore district, his holiness Norbu Rinpoche personally teaches his disciples at this monastery. Apparently, the fifth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, the third Chotkrul Rinpoche, and the third Rago Chotkrul Rinpoche were also personally trained by Norbu Rinpoche at this monastery. Apart from spiritual studies this monastery also offers subjects such as philosophy, debate, and logic via the “Ngagyur Nyingma University” which has been constructed within the monastery. In addition, this monastery has been blessed by the Dalai Lama himself and as of today is home to about 5000 lamas from across the globe. It is thus the environment of spirituality that it provides for which makes Namdroling Nyginmapa one among a few Monasteries in India definitely worth visiting.
Map of Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery, Karnataka
d. Tabo Monastery, Himachal Pradesh:
“Enchanting” is the ideal word to describe the atmosphere that surrounds the scenic Tabo monastery located in Himachal Pradesh.
Situated in the beautiful Spiti Valley, this monastery constructed in 996 AD is considered to be one of the oldest in India. The interior of this rather “charming” monastery comprises of beautiful wall and ceiling paintings. Furthermore, this monastery consists of a number of Buddhist “stupas” constructed during the 13th-15th century, and which has been maintained extremely well. In addition, this monastery comprises of about “9 temples” of which one of the temple holds the holy “Wheel of Law”. A few caves are also found around this monastery which are commonly referred to as “Ajanta of the Himalayas”. And so, it is the combination of picturesque scenic beauty as well cultural significance that makes Tabo one among a few worth visit Monasteries in India.
Map of Tabo Monastery, Himachal Pradesh
e. Phuktal Monastery, Ladakh:
“Through caves” is the literal translation of Phuktal, a monastery located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Situated in Ladakh, this monastery when viewed appears to be like a “cluster of small huts prepared from mud and wood shaped in the form of a honey comb”. Furthermore, this entire monastery has been built on the mouth of a cave. It was established by Gangsem Sherap Sampo during the early 12th century, and comprises of a number of prayer rooms and a library. It is also renowned for a number of magnificent wall and ceiling paintings as well as beautiful “frescos”. In addition, it was in 1826-27 that this monastery was first discovered and made public to the world. It is thus mainly its cultural and religious significance which makes Phutkal one among few worth visiting Monasteries in India.
Map of Phuktal Monastery, Ladakh
f. Ghoom Monastery, West Bengal:
“Sharap Gyatso” is the name of the lama that established the Ghoom monastery located in the state of West Bengal. Situated in Darjeeling, this monastery is situated at an altitude of 7,470 feet above sea level. Furthermore, it was constructed in 1850 and is considered to be one of the oldest monasteries in the East Indian region. This monastery consists of a splendid library that includes some rare and ancient Buddhist scriptures and books. It also serves as an important Buddhist learning center. It also comprises of a 15 feet high statue of Lord Buddha and is a major tourist attraction. And so, it is the unique fusion of religious significance and an atmosphere of “spirituality” which makes Ghoom one among a few Monasteries in India worth a visit.
Map of Ghoom Monastery, West Bengal
g. Enchey Monastery- Sikkim:
“Dense forest and pine trees” surrounds the beautiful Enchey Monastery located in the northeast Indian of Sikkim. Situated in the Kanchenjunga Mountain Range, this monastery is said to have been founded by a Buddhist tantric master known as Lama Druptob Karpo, who was popular for having mastered the “Art of Flying”. Furthermore, this monastery comprises of a “colourful” architecture, and is home to about 90 Buddhist monks. In addition, as per the Tibetan calendar a festival known as “Chaam” is organized by the monks at this monastery. The construction of this colourful monastery was completed in 1901. The picturesque view that surrounds the monastery helps add a lot of charm to the monastery. It is then the picturesque environment as well as the popular “Chaam Festival” that makes Enchey one among the few Monasteries in India worth visiting.
Map of Enchey Monastery, Sikkim
h. Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh:
“Magnificent” is the adjective that best describes a monastery called Tawang located in Arunachal Pradesh. Situated at an altitude of 3500 meters above sea level, this monastery is also commonly referred to as the “Chosen Horse Monastery”. Furthermore, this monastery is the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. In addition, it is surrounded by an atmosphere that is filled with “tranquility”. In addition, the monastery comprises of splendid architecture as well as a few splendid statutes of Buddha which consists of inscriptions of his teachings. There also exist a room in this three storey monastery in which monks meditate and perform religious activities. It is therefore mainly due to its religious significance that makes Tawang one among a few Monasteries in India that is not only important but also a must visit.
Map of Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh
i. Kye Monastery- Himachal Pradesh:
“1017” is the number years that the Kye Monastery located in Himachal Pradesh has completed since it was first established. Situated at an altitude of about 4,116 meters above sea level, this monastery when viewed closely resembles a fort. Furthermore, this monastery is also considered to be one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage center in India. In addition, the architecture of this monastery clearly indicates heavy Chinese influences. This monastery comprises of a number of sacred Buddhist scriptures as well as paintings. It also comprises of a library that contains a wide range of ancient books pertaining Buddhism. And so, due to its religious significance Kye belongs to an elite group of Monasteries in India that is worth visiting.
Map of Kye Monastery, Himachal Pradesh
j. Namgyal Monastery- Himachal Pradesh:
Founded by the third Dalai Lama is the Namgyal Monastery located in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Furthermore, since this monastery was founded by a “Lama” it is considered one of the holiest in the world. It also comprises of a number of temples as well as centers of education. In addition, this monastery is surrounded by an extremely “picturesque and serene” atmosphere. So, it is the combination of scenic beauty and religious significance that makes Namgyal one among a few monasteries in India truly worth a visit.
Map of Namgyal Monastery, Himachal Pradesh