India is a home to many religions and also the birthplace of some of them. One of them is Buddhism. Buddhism is a religion that centres on not only the spiritual development of seekers but also strives for a deep perspicacity into the true nature of life and death, and does not believe in ideal worship. The teachings of Buddha have only spread over the course of time and today, Buddhism has become the fourth largest religion in the world with over 520 million devotees.
India, being the motherland of Buddhism, has some of the world’s most beautiful and divine Buddhist Monasteries. These monasteries attract a ton of spiritual seekers from around the globe. They come for finding inner-peace and for a new perspective towards life. These monasteries are not only divine but also a marvel of ancient architecture! So here we have compiled for you a list of 10 Popular Buddhist Monasteries in India:
1. Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh
Famous as the largest monastery in India and second-largest in the world, the Tawang Monastery is situated in Tawang, Tawang district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. An 18 feet (5.5 m) magnificent image of Buddha, which is in a lotus-shaped position, is revered. It is gilded and ornamented. It holds strong in the valley of the Tawang River which is close to the small town of ‘Tawang’ in the northwest frame of Arunachal Pradesh, in the vicinity close to the Tibetan and Bhutanese border.
2. Ghum Monastery, West Bengal
The Yiga Choeling or popularly known as Old Ghoom Monastery (Ghum Monastery) is one of the oldest Tibetan monasteries of the country. This monastery is situated in the beautiful valley of Darjeeling and thus a great spot for you to rest and enjoy the subtle sun in the original aura of the Great Himalayas. Residing at a length of 2,400 meters, the monastery houses a 15 feet high Maitreya Buddha along with a pair of pictures of Chongapa and Chenrezi.
3. Tsuglagkhang Complex, Himachal Pradesh
The Tsuglagkhang complex is an important place for Buddhists who are in exile. It is the official residence of the 14th Dalai Lama and thus an important centre for Buddhism. The Tsuglagkhang complex has the Photang (Dalai Lama’s residence), Tsuglagkhang Temple, Namgyal Gompa, Tibet Museum, and has three beautiful idols of Sakyamuni, Padmasambhava, and Avalokitesvara. It is a must visit when in the city!
4. Zang Dhok Palri Phodang, Kalimpong
The Zang Dhok Palri Phodang is one of the most notable and largest monasteries of the eastern state of West Bengal and is situated in the beautiful town of Kalimpong. What attracts the seekers of this shrine is the immense beauty and a collection of rare Buddhist scriptures which are over 108 volumes in number. The breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga also add to the scenic beauty of this beautiful monastery.
5. Namdroling Monastery, Karnataka
The Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery (or Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargye Ling) is the biggest teaching centre of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. This monastery is home to over five thousand lamas (both monks and nuns) of the Sangha Community and has Yeshe Wodsal Sherab Raldri Ling-religious school and also a religious college. It is situated in the town of Bylakuppe of the Mysore City of the state of Karnataka, India.
6. Rumtek Monastery, Gangtok
The Rumtek Monastery is one of the oldest and largest monasteries in the Sikkim state of India. A marvel to the eyes of its seekers, this monastery is surrounded by mountains and natural streams forming a blithe melody. The monastery is also renowned for its exquisite architecture which involves a beautiful golden sculpture on the rooftop and walls ornamented with murals. This Buddhist temple also celebrates the four protectors of the universe- Vaishravana, Virudaka, Dhritarashtra and Virupaksha.
7. Key Monastery, Spiti
The Key Monastery lies in the exquisite Himalayas. It is one of the most picturesque Tibetan Buddhist monastery situated on a hilltop in Pinjoor, in Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh, in middle of brown and white glazed enormous mountains. The magnificent monastery is positioned at a height of 4166 metres above sea level. It is located so beautiful that it can even be spotted from the town of Kaza, 7km away. During snowfall, it appears like an enormous white and golden balloon floating in the air. An absolute bliss!
8. Mindrolling Monastery, Uttaranchal
The Mindrolling Monastery is a part of the six monasteries by the Nyingma School of Buddhism, situated at the beautiful hill station of Dehradun. This monastery has one of the biggest stupas in the world of height- 60 meters. Mindrolling monastery also has its own college in its campus and many rooms displaying a collection of relics, murals and Tibetan art items. There is a 35-meter-tall golden statue of Lord Buddha. The best time to visit this monastery is between November and March.
9. Phugtal Monastery, Ladakh
Phugtal Monastery or Phugtal Gompa is a Buddhist monastery situated in the isolated valley of Lungnak in Zanskar, in the independent Himalayan area of Ladakh, India. It is in one of the most secluded valleys of Ladakh and is considered a pilgrimage for the devotees of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery consists of 4 prayer rooms and a library, where you can explore the rich culture and ancient practices of Tibetian Buddhism. The seekers need to reach the monastery via trekking only and thus it is also a place of attraction for adventure enthusiasts.
10. Hemis Monastery, Ladakh
The Hemis Monastery is one of the biggest Buddhist monasteries and also among the most famous ones in India. Hemis Gompa is situated in the valley of Ladakh and has a magnificent array of ancient relics. The most famous attraction here is the Hemis Gompa Festival, it is celebrated every year in early June and includes many activities such as the Mask Dances of Ladakh and tantric worship by the Monks. In this festival, they honour the Padmasambhava.