Top 10 Monasteries in India You must visit!


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The term monastery is generally used to denote the buildings of a community of monks. Indian monasteries are believed to be some of the most pious pilgrims all over the world. These monasteries or Gompas in India are highly significant and revered by people of all religion.

They are the major centre of attraction for the tourists coming on the tour to India. Most of the monasteries have gained the international fame and are known for the unique architectural treasure. Moreover, many of these monasteries are located at stunning sites – clinging at the top of hill, near streams, amidst greenery or barren landscape – which enhance their attractiveness multifold. If you desire to know about monasteries in India or intend to visit them, here you go.

  1. Namgyal Monastry, Dharmashala

Namgyal Monastery was rebuilt near the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala and has managed to continue its program of studies and ritual practices under the very guidance of His Holiness. The monastery has nearly two hundred monks.

The monastery is especially privileged and honoured to perform annually the sacred rites and rituals established by the successive Dalai Lamas for the temporal and spiritual benefits and prosperity of Tibet and its people. Monks can be seen engaging in lively debate during the afternoon here. There’s also a bookshop and cafe that cater to visitors. If you feel spiritually inclined, you can follow the Buddhist pilgrims and take a ritual walk around the complex in a clockwise direction, amidst fluttering prayer flags in the forest.

Namgyal-Monastery-Dharamsala-533x400

  1. Ghum Monastery , Darjeeling

Ghum is one of the oldest Tibetan Monastery located at the distance of 6 km south of Darjeeling, in the state of West Bengal India. Also known as Yiga-Choling, it is the perched at the height of 8,000 feet above the sea level. The monastery was built in the year 1850 by Lama Sharap Gyatso , a renowned astrologer. The Ghum Monastery belongs to the Yellow sect of Buddhists. It comprises of a single chambered temple with the few residential buildings and an outhouse. It is a home to more than 60 monks. On the visit to the Ghum Monastery one may notice great Tibetan influence in the environment and prayer rituals.

ghoom monastry

  1. Namdroling Monastery , Mysore

Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery is the largest teaching centre of Nyingmapa lineage of Buddhism in the world. The monastery is home to over five thousand lamas both monks and nuns. This monastery was established by Kyabje Penor Rinpoche in 1963, following his 1959 exit from Tibet as another seat in exile of the Palyul Monastery. The amount of gold in the prayer hall and temple is quite overwhelming, as too are the immense gold statues of Buddha. Apart from being the biggest Nyingmapa centre, it also has a retreat centre, started in 1985, where thirty monks undergo an inside 30 day retreat.

NamdrolingMonastery

  1. Hemis Monastery –Ladakh

Hemis is a glorious Buddhist monastery, located at the distance of 43 km from Leh on the left side of the river Indus. Also known as Chang Chub Sam Ling or ‘the lone place of the compassionate person’, it was constructed in 1630 during the reign of Sengge Namgyal, the celebrated ruler of Ladakh. Hemis Gompa is the venue of famous Hemis festival, celebrated in the commemoration of the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. It is the headquarter of the Drukpa order and all the monasteries in Ladakh region. It preserves a huge collection of ancient statues, sacred  thangkas (scroll paintings) and various precious artefacts.

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  1. Tabo Monastry, Spiti Valley

Tabo is the popular Buddhists Monastery situated in the Spiti Valley of India. It stands perched at the average height of 3050 m and falls between the Indian -Tibetan border. Tabo is regarded as one amongst the most significant and most consecrated monasteries of Himachal Pradesh. The monastery was founded in 996 AD by the great Indian scholar Guru Ratnabhadra or Rinchen Sangpo. This ancient monastery is more than 1000 years old and is known as “Ajanta of the Himalayas” for its well preserved murals. It stands on the barren, arid, snow and rocky desert of the Tabo valley at a dizzy height of 3050 m. The monastery complex holds 9 temples and is a national historic treasure of India, protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.

tabo-monastery

  1. Enchey Monastery, Gangtok

Enchey is the highly revered monastery, located in Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim in India. The literal meaning of ‘Enchey’ is the ‘solitary temple’. Said to be approximately two hundred years old, it is one of the most important monastery in Gangtok. The monastery boosts of the various images of the gods and goddess. There are three gods that are worshiped in the monastery Buddha, Loki Sharia and Guru Padmasambhava. There are approximately 90 monks who stay in the Enchey Monastery.

enchey-monastery-gangtok

  1. Tawang Monastry, Arunachal Pradesh

Tawang is renowned for being one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in India. It is located at the distance of approximately 180 km from Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh, in the north-eastern region of India. The glorious monastery of Tawang is perched at an average elevation of 3500 m amongst the panoramic settings of the lofty ranges and snow capped peaks of the breathtakingly beautiful Himalayas. The monastery houses 65 residential buildings, chortens, lanes and by lanes. There is a main shrine room inside the monastery that is richly decorated and contains several statues including a beautiful thousand armed Chenrezig. The three-storied Parkhang library in the monastery has invaluable collection of 400-year-old Kangyur & Tanjur scriptures in addition to many other manuscripts. Other large collections include the Sutras, Tangym, Sungbhum, old books and other manuscripts, both handwritten and printed, many of them in gold.

tawang-monastery

  1. Mindrolling Monastery, Dehradun

Considered as one of the most popular Buddhist Monasteries in Northern India, Mindrolling Monastery of Dehradun was re-established in 1976. Measured as the biggest: Buddhist center points in India, the Mindrolling Religious community are sited in the foothills of the Himalayas on the Forbearing town which is near to Rajaji National Stop in Dehradun region of Uttarakhand. Measuring 185 feet tall and 100 square feet wide, its precise design transforms and harmonizes imbalances in elements and energies. Apparently it’s the largest stupa the world. Inside, there are numerous shrine rooms with elaborate murals and sacred relics. Visitors can relax in the tranquil landscaped gardens surrounding it.

Mindrolling-Monastery-Dehradun

  1. Rumtek Monastery,  Sikkim

The Rumtek Monastery is located at the hilltop of Gangtok, Sikkim. Rumtek Monastery is one of the largest in the state and surrounding with beautiful area. This colourful, grand old monastery dates back to the 9th century in Tibet but was re-established in the early 1960s in India. It’s been surrounded by controversy, and even subject to violent altercations and invasion from some monks who dispute its lineage. The monastery holds plenty of activities, including chanting and ritual services in the mornings and evenings. There are also impressive masked dances during the annual group meditation.

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10. Thikse Monastery -Leh

As well as being the second most prominent monastery in Ladakh, Thiksey monastery also has a remarkable setting covering one side of a hill. Its numerous buildings are arranged in ascending order of importance. Some people liken it to a small white-washed town, with a slightly fairytale look. The monastery is a favorite with tourists, many of whom consider it to be the best monastery in the region. The architecture of the monastery strongly resembles the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, the former official seat of the Dalai Lamas. Thus, Thikse Monastery is also known as ‘Mini Potala’.

Thikse-Monastery-Leh

-Tanvi Shah


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Smita Singh

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