What is the Buddhist monastery & which are famous in India?

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When you talk about a peaceful spiritual experience with a pious aura, any Buddhist monastery provides one of the best experiences. India is fortunate to have many glorious Buddhist monasteries which are well-known around the world. 

What is a Buddhist monastery?

A Buddhist monastery is a place where a community of monks and nuns live in a building or a group of buildings to learn, preserve and guide Buddhism. Different structures including temples are part of it. A Buddhist follower can Buddha’s teaching at a monastery. Anyone can visit and stay in any Buddhist monastery. 

  1. Hemis monastery, Ladakh: 
  • Hemis monastery is 50 km away from Leh city. The Buddhist monastery existed before the 11th century and re-established in India in the year 1652. 
  • Naropa achieved enlightenment here at this Buddhist monastery. 
  • Though it’s not visually beautiful, this monastery is the richest and largest in Ladakh. 
  • You will be able to notice collections of famous statues, a variety of artifacts, relics, anecdotes, sacred thangkas, etc. 
  • During the time of the Hemis festival, the monks perform cultural rituals and people perform ‘Masked dance’ for which Hemis Monastery is famous. Local people conduct programs and wear traditional attire to celebrate the festival.  
  • Every year, June & July is the best time to visit this Buddhist monastery for the Hemis festival dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava.  
  1. Phuktal monastery, Ladakh: 
  • ‘Phuktal’, a Tibetan word that means ‘through caves’ and this Buddhist monastery is made of mud, wood at the mouth of the cave at the end of the cliff.
  • This Buddhist monastery is in the Zanskar region of Ladakh gives a mesmerizing overview of the location.  
  • You will be able to see this Buddhist monastery is made in the shape of a honeycomb.
  • Gangsem Sherap Sampo built the Phuktal monastery in the 12th century yet it was discovered in the 19th century.
  • Almost 70 monks live and offer daily prayers inside this Buddhist monastery.
  • The only way to reach Phuktal monastery is by crossing a suspension bridge over the river. However, the whole route to reach the monastery is a trek and is difficult. Yet, the final destination is spectacular that makes the whole journey worth it.
  • This Buddhist monastery houses multiple prayer rooms, a library with frescoes on the ceiling that depicts the Buddhist culture and art. 
  • During Monsoon season, water pours inside from the mouth of the cave. 
  • July to September is the best time to visit the Phuktal monastery.   
  1. Thiksey monastery, Ladakh: 
  • This Buddhist monastery is 20 km away from Leh city in the Thiksey village and is in the foothills of the Himalayas.
  • The 12 stroyes Thiksey monastery consists of several Buddhist arts such as Stupas, statues, thangkas, swords, wall paintings. 
  • Among all statues, a 49 feet statue of Maitreya Buddha is the main attraction. This is the largest statue in the Ladakh Valley that covers 2 storeys of this Buddhist monastery.
  • The whole area’s building is painted in white and arranged in ascending order according to their importance. There are cafes and temples as well.
  • At this Buddhist monastery, you will be able to witness great peace and serenity. It resembles the Potala Palace in Tibet. 
  • May to September is the best time to visit this Buddhist monastery. During winter the routes are closed due to the snowfall. 
  1. Tawang monastery, Arunachal Pradesh:
  • This Buddhist monastery is situated in Tawang city in Arunachal Pradesh state. It’s located in the Himalayas range above 10 thousand feet above sea level. 
  • Tawang monastery is India’s 1st and world’s 2nd largest Buddhist monastery after the Potala Palace in Tibet.
  • Early morning each day the monks offer prayers which is a spellbinding sight. Multiple monks in red & yellow monks gather and recite holy chants at this Buddhist monastery.
  • The view of the whole Tawang monastery is breathtaking. The Mountains covered with snow compliments the whole scene. 
  • This Buddhist monastery welcomes visitors throughout the year.
  1. Tabo monastery, Himachal Pradesh:
  • Tabo monastery is located in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh and is the oldest monastery in India. 
  • Unlike other Indian Buddhist monasteries, the Tabo monastery is not standing in a hilly area, but it’s sitting at the bottom of the Valley above 10 thousand feet above sea level. 
  • Tibetan Buddhist Lotsawa (Translator), Rinchen Zangpo (Mahauru Ramabhara) founded the Tabo monastery on behalf of the king of the Western Himalayan kingdom of Guge, Yeshe-O.
  • The Tabo monastery is the most popular and visited Buddhist monastery known in India. Also, the monastery is the ideal place to learn Buddhism. 
  • ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas’ is another name of the monastery due to its walls and ceiling paintings in most parts of the Tabo monastery. 
  • This Buddhist monastery comprises numerous artworks, sculptures, scriptures, statues that narrate the story of the origin of Buddha and the history of the religion.
  • There are 23 chortens, a monk’s chamber, a nun’s chamber and 9 temples inside the Buddhist monastery. One of the temples holds the ‘Wheel of Law’. 
  • May to October is the best time to visit this Buddhist monastery. Once in 3 years, the ‘Chakhar’ festival is celebrated here during September-October and anyone can become part of the celebration.        
  1. Tsuglagkhang Monastery, Himachal Pradesh: 
  • The Tsuglagkhang Monastery is built in the Mcleodganj suburb part of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh surrounded by deep pine tree forest.
  • This Buddhist monastery is known as ‘Dalai Lama’s temple’ because the Tsuglagkhang Monastery is his home. Hence, it’s one of the most famous monasteries.
  • This Buddhist monastery includes a museum, Namgyal Gompa, Kalachakra temple and several sacred paintings of the Buddhist culture.
  • Sakyamuni Buddha’s 3-meter tall gilded statue inside the temple is one of the things you shouldn’t miss to check out at this Buddhist monastery.
  • November to March is the best time to visit the Tsuglagkhang Monastery. 
  1. Rumtek monastery, Sikkim: 
  • The Rumtek monastery was built in the 9th century and was re-established in the early 1960s in India.
  • This Buddhist monastery is the largest among the 200 in Sikkim and the most visited among the rest in the region.
  • Every year in May-June, this Buddhist monastery celebrates Tibet New year with special prayers, procession and ‘Masked dance’. 
  • It’s the most guarded Buddhist monastery in India.
  • May to June is the best time to visit the Rumtek monastery.  
  1. Palpung Sherabling monastic seat, Himachal Pradesh:
  • The Palpung Sherabling monastic seat is spread on 30 acres of land that’s covered with pine forest in Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh.
  • This mesmerizing Buddhist monastery embraces its beauty with snow-covered mountains in the background that offers a retreat to 25 monks. 
  • This Buddhist monastery in India is among a few monasteries that teaches wood carving, metalwork, Thangka art, sculpting, and tailoring to the students.
  • There are 126 quarters for the monks, 3 shrine halls, 6 shrine rooms. There are winding paths that lead you through the forests, and you can embark on several rejuvenating treks and trails.
  • Kenting Tai Situpa designed the main 5-storey building and dedicated each floor for a different purpose.
  • February to June is the best time to visit the Palpung Sherabling monastic seat.
  1. Mindrolling Monastery, Uttarakhand:
  • Rigzin Terdak Lingpa founded this Buddhist monastery in the year 1676 located in Dehradun.
  • It is one of the major Buddhist monasteries of the Nyingma School in Tibet.
  • ‘Mindrolling’ means ‘Place of Perfect Emancipation. This Buddhist monastery is also considered one of the largest Buddhist Viharas in India.
  • In the year 2002, the Buddhist monastery installed the ‘Great Stupa’, which is 185 feet tall and the width measures up to 100 square feet. It is the largest stupa in the world. 
  • The Mindrolling monastery depicts the art and culture of the Buddhist culture that you can understand easily.
  • March to June is the best time to visit the Mindrolling monastery. 
  1. Namdroling monastery, Karnataka:  
  • Unlike most of the monasteries in India, the Namdroling monastery isn’t in a mountain region, but it’s sitting in Mysore, Karnataka. 
  • ‘Golden temple’ is another name of this Buddhist monastery and is home to 5 thousand monks. 
  • ‘Little Tibet’ in South India is another popular name of the Buddhist monastery in India with 18-meter tall gold statues of Buddha, several domes.
  • This Buddhist monastery is respected as the largest teaching center of the Nyingmapa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in the world.  
  • It’s also one of the 6 great Tibetan Mother monasteries in India.
  • Here you will be able to see the Tibetan mythological paintings that highlight the walls. You will be able to see the breathtaking roof of the main temple with a golden bell and 2 golden deer on each side.
  • Every year during Tibetan New Year, the Namdroling monastery welcomes thousands from around the world for a celebration that goes on for weeks. The celebration includes formal processions, lama dance and traditional events. 
  • July to February is the best time to visit this Buddhist monastery.

Conclusion

These few Buddhist monasteries are the embodiment of a pure and composed environment. You can visit them for soul searching and an elating experience that brings you closer to the truth of your being. Any Buddhist monastery in India welcomes you to such an experience.

At Secret Temples, you will learn about various sacred places of multiple religions.

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