Top 16 Buddhist Monasteries in India

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Buddhist religion has garnered accolades of recognition from spiritual seekers in the last few years which is the reason for the growing popularity of Buddhist tours among a wide section of travelers in India. Globally, the religion has impacted western popular culture owing to the distinct spiritual practices and meditation techniques enlisted in Buddhism. Read here: https://buddhistpilgrimagetours.wordpress.com/2019/02/18/top-16-buddhist-monasteries-in-india/

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Top 16 Buddhist Monasteries in India You Must Visit To Awaken Your Spirits Buddhist religion has garnered accolades of recognition from spiritual seekers in the last few years which is the reason for the growing popularity of  Buddhist tours  among a wide section of travelers in India. Globally, the religion has impacted western popular culture owing to the distinct spiritual practices and meditation techniques enlisted in Buddhism. Being the birthplace of the Buddhist religion, India has a host of  Buddhist pilgrimage destinations  which promise to offer the best spiritual experience. The roots of  Buddhism religion  lie in Bodh Gaya district in Uttar Pradesh where Lord Buddha obtained spiritual enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree which ultimately led to the spread of the religion in other parts of India . Buddhist Monasteries  hold great importance in the emancipation of religion and it’s highly unlikely not to come across a monastery, no matter which place you travel to in India. Monasteries were initially built as refuge for monks to take shelter in the rainy season but were later turned into centers for learning Buddhist teachings. India has an infinite number of Buddhist Monasteries located in its northern and eastern parts. The peaceful atmosphere of these religious institutions compels visitors to spend some quiet time away from the hustle of city life. Interacting with the monks living in the monasteries allows you to have a better understanding of Buddhist lifestyle. If you’re seeking to spend your next weekend in the solace of a Buddhist monastery, here is a list of some of the most breathtaking  Buddhist monasteries in India  worth visiting.

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1. Hemis Monastery, Ladakh annual  Hemis festival  which takes place in the Hemis monastery. This festival holds great significance for the people of Ladakh and is famous among tourists as it showcases the rich culture of Buddhists residing in this part of India. This festival is celebrated to honour Lord Padmasambhava who was known for his dedication to spirituality. The displaying of the largest thangka takes place in this festival every 12 years. The next exhibition of this thangka is slated to be held in 2024. Timings: 6 AM to 8 PM  One of the wealthiest and largest  monasteries in Ladakh , Hemis monastery is mainly famous for its rich collection of gold statues, stupas , and thangkas . This monastery is now a dwelling place for around a thousand monks. The monastery also has a huge courtyard where ceremonies and celebrations are held. This place is most famous for the

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2. Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh Timings: 6 AM -6 PM Thiksey monastery in Ladakh  is known for its stark resemblance with the Potala Palace in Lhasa which enthralls everyone with its enchanting beauty. The monastery is a twelve story building with several stupas , thangkas , swords, and statues. The walls of the monastery are decorated with beautiful paintings which reveal a rich artistic taste of Buddhists. The 49 feet tall idol of Maitreya Buddha placed inside Maitreya  is the most prominent  attraction of Thiksey monastery .  You can also find a large pillar engraved with the teachings of Lord Buddha inside the building. The monastery is located 20 km away from Leh and is best visited during the summer season.

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3. Mindrolling Monastery, Dehradun Timings:  9 AM to 7 PM Situated amidst the picturesque clement town, Mindrolling monastery is in every way a dream escape for the lovers of serenity and nature. The Japanese architecture of this monastery invokes great interest among the tourists. You’re bound to be enthralled with the grand interiors, the moment you enter this building. The monastery contains several shrines, murals, and relics along with a 30 meter tall  statue of Shakyamuni Buddha . There is a huge stupa inside the building which is surrounded by prayer wheels. The monastery also houses a bookstore where you can pick any book to know more about the religion. The Buddha garden in the building is another exciting feature of the monastery.

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4. Namgyal Monastery, Dharamsala Timing:   4:30 AM to 8:30 PM Namgyal Monastery in McLeodganj  is a sought after tourist destination that attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe. The monastery is situated against a scenic backdrop of rhododendron trees and dhauladhar range. Besides being an eminent tourist spot, Namgyal monastery is also the residence of Tibetan spiritual leader, The Dalai Lama which makes it a preferred  pilgrimage destination for Buddhist  spiritual seekers. The monastery is located within Tsuglagkhang complex which also houses a library, museum, and a temple. The serene atmosphere of this place makes it a perfect place for meditation.

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5. Nako Monastery, Kinnaur Timings: 8 AM to 5 PM Nako monastery  is a charming structure lying at the edge of Spiti valley. The area of the monastery falls under Kinnaur district but bears stark resemblance with the landscape and culture found in Spiti . The monastery stands beside a beautiful lake in Nako village which would leave the visitors bewitched with its serenity. The monastery comprises of four temples representing unique Victorian style architecture. The clay idols, murals, and paintings placed inside the temples attract a lot of attention with their intricate artwork. This monastery is best visited in the months of April and October.

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6. Chokling Monastery, Bir Timings:  9 AM to 5 PM Chokling Monastery in Bir  is one of the most enchanting  monasteries in India . This one is especially famous for its gorgeous surroundings. The monastery is situated near Bir , a world famous paragliding spot which adds an interesting appeal to this place. Be ready to be welcomed by the para gliders flying over the monastery amid a lush valley dominated by pine trees, forests and vast fields. Strings of colorful flags spreading all around the monastery lend a wonderful feel to its surroundings. The monastery has a temple and a meditation center overlooking a beautiful lawn where child monks can be seen playing. Talking to the monks and watching them perform the daily rituals let you gather a better understanding of the Buddhist lifestyle.

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7. Enchey Monastery, Gangtok , Sikkim Timings: 4:00 AM – 4:00 PM Enchey Monastery  is a 200 year old pagoda like structure situated around 300 km from Gangtok . The surroundings of the monastery are replete with abundant nature and pristine beauty emanating from Kanchanjunga hills. The Monastery is believed to be founded by Lama Druptob Karpo , a Buddhist tantric who took refuge in this secluded spot which was later renovated into a Chinese style structure. The monastery has around 90 monks with murals, paintings, and images of Gods decorating its interiors. Visiting this Monastery also lets you witness the famous Chaam dance presented by masked monks. Months of January and February are considered the  best time to visit Enchey monastery .

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8. Ghoom Monastery, Darjeeling, West Bengal Timings:   10 am to 6 pm Ghoom monastery  is one of the  oldest monasteries in India  and is worth the attention of the visitors due to its unique architecture. The monastery is situated just 17 km from the picturesque Darjeeling town. The fifteen feet tall statue of Maitreya Buddha kept inside the monastery grabs most of the attention. A large oil lamp is placed near the statue which remains lit all the time. The thangkas , paintings, drums, and bells are what make this place so inviting.

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9. Alchi Monastery, Leh Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM Entry fee: INR 30 per person. Alchi monastery  is a one of the well known  Buddhist Monastery of Ladakh  that mesmerizes everyone with its beautiful carvings, paintings, and murals decorating it. The monastery is one of the four different Buddhist settlements in Alchi village. The building has a large assembly hall, temples and a  statue of Bodhisattva . The monastery is built on a flat area rather than on a hilltop as is the case with most Buddhist monasteries. It also houses a huge idol of Maitreya Buddha which is worth seeing.

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10. Gandhola Monastery, Spiti Timings:   6 AM to 6 PM Entry fee: INR 30 per person. This monastery is perched on a hill in Tupchiling village located between rivers Chandra and Bhaga in Spiti . This eight hundred year old monastery was set up by Guru Padmasambhava and is popular among people of all religions. The wooden idol of Buddha along with the ornate clay sculptures and paintings placed inside the monastery draw a lot of attention from the visitors and also acquaint them with the Buddhist art. The place is best visited in summers and in the autumn season.

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11. Stakna Monastery, Ladakh Timings:    6 am to 6 pm This monastery is located on a hill that looks like a tiger’s nose and is famous for the statue of Arya Avalokiteshvara , a seven feet tall chorten cast entirely out of silver metal and an idol of Lord Buddha kept inside the stupa . The building also has an assembly hall exhibiting paintings of different gurus namely Shakyamuni , Bodhisattva, and Amchi . The Indus River flowing near the monastery gives an exhilarating experience to the visitors. Due to the difficult weather conditions, this area faces during winters the monastery is best visited in the months of July, August and September as the roads leading to the monastery remain clear during this time.

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12 . The Lamayuru Monastery, Ladakh Times: 6 AM to 7 PM Lamayuru Monastery  happens to be one of the most fascinating spots to visit in Ladakh. Being one of the oldest  monasteries in Ladakh , there are a variety of legends relating to the monastery which garners great interest from the visitors coming to Ladakh. The monastery complex is spread over a vast area consisting of five ancient buildings of which four have been decayed. Lamayuru grabs most of the attention due to its out-of-the-ordinary landscape which makes you feel as if you’ve landed on the moon. Lamayuru monastery is best visited in the months of May, June to September.

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13 . Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim Timings: 9 AM to 6 PM This highly acclaimed pilgrimage spot of  Buddhists in Sikkim  was solely built as a seat in exile of sixteenth century Karmapa who lent great contribution in spreading the teachings of Lord Buddha around the world. The monastery is situated atop a picturesque hill 24 km from Gangtok that offers splendid views of the snow capped peaks, streams and pine forests nestling the monastery. The insides of the monastery are equally compelling when compared to its amazing surroundings. There’s a shrine, temple and a golden stupa belonging to the 16th century Karmapa that are worth seeing. The images of Dalai Lama and Lord Ganesha at the entrance portray the connection between the two faiths, Buddhism and Hinduism.

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4. Diskit Monastery, Ladakh Timings:   7 AM – 1 PM and 2 PM -7 PM Diskit monastery  poses a perfect contrast against the barren landscape of  Nubra valley in Ladakh  with its stark white exteriors. The monastery was founded by a follower of Tsong Khapa and is dedicated to the Gelupka order of Buddhism. Tibetan Gompas , frescoes and other sculptures of Buddhists are placed inside the building which let you gather an idea about the ancient Buddhist art. Among its most impressive features is a statue of Cho Rinpoche kept in the prayer hall. Visiting   Diskit monastery also gives you an opportunity to witness the magnificent views of the  cold deserts of Nubra . You can also visit the huge  statue of Maitreya Buddha  located a short distance away from the monastery. To savour the uniqueness of this monastery in its best form without any hassles, it is advised to visit this place in July, August, and September. If you wish to witness the famous Dosmoche festival held in the month of February at Diskit monastery, you have to be prepared to ace the extreme weather conditions experienced in the valley.

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15 . Key Monastery, Spiti Timings:    6 am to 6 pm This is the  largest monastery in Spiti valley  with a delightful architecture that is well liked by visitors from across the globe. On reaching the top of the monastery you get to view the alluring sight of Spiti River flowing below the hill. This praiseworthy  pilgrimage destination of Buddhists  in Lahaul and Spiti is a three storey building consisting of a storage area that houses artefacts of Buddhists, a prayer hall and a separate room displaying murals and paintings. The most irresistible feature of Key monastery is its transfixing surroundings which provide a perfect blend of nature and tranquility especially for the seekers of solitude.   Best time to visit Key monastery is from May to October.

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16 . Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh Timings:    8 am to 7 pm The most frequented monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang monastery is designated as the  second largest Buddhist monastery in the world . This famous abode of Buddhists is located on a scenic land encompassed by mountains, lakes, and gompas which lend an arresting aura to the monastery. The huge structure resembles a large fort from a distance and has a number of temples, stupas , and halls decorated with intricate artwork. The grand interiors of the Tawang monastery exude a rare magnetism which blends perfectly with the serenity of its surroundings. The giant sized doors throughout the monastery delight the visitors with their magnetic appeal. Months of March, April, May, June, and September are considered the best to visit Tawang .

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Contact Us Contact Info: Address: 1st Floor, Bhanot House 17, Community Centre Gulmohar Enclave Extn . New Delhi -110049 Tel: 01147674000 Fax: 011 4767 4040 Email: info@statexp.in Website: www.stateexpressindia.com

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