Five monasteries to look out for in India

Temples of Buddhism worth a visit

News - India & You


June 6, 2017

/ By / Kolkata

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The Tabo Monastery Spiti Valley has a very interesting aesthetic. Picture: Wikimedia Commons/ CC 4.0/Arup1981

The Tabo Monastery Spiti Valley has a very interesting aesthetic. Picture: Wikimedia Commons/ CC 4.0/Arup1981

India is home to numerous monasteries that make for a peaceful visit.

Buddhist monasteries in India can be found in numerous parts of the country and in large numbers, since the philosophy originated in the subcontinent. As peaceful places, often located up in hills of the Himalayan ranges, monasteries are a viable option for those who seek serenity. Also engaging spaces for lovers of art, architecture and aesthetics, monasteries across India make for interesting tourism destinations. While most monasteries restrict accommodation within their structures to monks and nuns living in the order, there are a few that are open as guesthouses to respectful visitors. Here are five interesting monasteries to visit in India.

Thiskey Monastery, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir

Located in Ladakh district of north India state Jammu and Kashmir, Thiskey Monastery is among the largest monasteries in the region. Close to Leh, it is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery with incredible architecture set against a picturesque backdrop. With 12 floors and numerous temples within, the monastery serves as a home to 120 monks and nuns. It is a popular spot for tourists and has been nicknamed ‘Mini Potala’ owing to its resemblance to the Potala Palace, which is situated in Lhasa, Tibet. Numerous sculptures are to be found here, with a 40 feet high Buddha statue as a highlight.

Tabo Monastery, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Situated on top of a hill in the cold desert mountain valley of Spiti in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, Tabo Monastery is a must visit for travellers in the region. The monastery is said to be over a thousand years old and has a number of artefacts such as scrolls and clay sculptures. There is an option to stay at the monastery and in the numerous guesthouses nearby, making the visit to this part of Spiti Valley a relaxing and educational experience, with incredible paintings to be seen inside the monastery. Close by are the Tabo Caves that also have an other-worldly feel to them, and many say the larger caves were once used by monks as an assembly hall.

Samten Monastery, Rimbick, West Bengal

The Samten Monastery in the eastern state of West Bengal in India is located up the hill from Rimbick on the foothills of the Himalayas. Quite close to the north-eastern state of Sikkim, this is a lesser known monastery that offers travellers options to stay there in exchange for volunteer work, ranging from painting to cooking and gardening. Located four hours from a rather busy hill station called Darjeeling, the monastery is an interesting place to head to and is currently undergoing renovation for which it invites volunteers. This monastery was established almost a hundred years ago.

Namdroling Monastery, Bylakuppe, Karnataka

Namdroling Monastery is located in the Tibetan settlement town of Bylakuppe in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Visited by many travellers and locals, this monastery, which is only a few hours away from the busy city of Bengaluru was established around 1963 shortly after Drubwang Padma Norbu Rinpoche came to the country post his exile from Tibet. With intricate paintings, wall carvings and large golden Buddha statues, this place is an interesting visit in the southern part of India.

Urguelling Monastery, Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

Although the north-eastern Indian state Arunachal Pradesh is known for its Tawang Monastery, there are other monasteries in the region that are worth marvelling at. Located close to Tawang town, Urguelling Monastery dates back to the 15th century. Said to be the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama, the monastery is a historically significant one. Today, it is a simple single-temple complex that provides housing to monks. Accommodation is available very close to this monastery close to the Tawang town, which has numerous other monasteries to choose from.

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