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Home » India » North India » Forts & Monuments » Buddhist Monastries

Buddhist Monastries

Lord Buddha

Buddhism was a religion that was born in India but spread its wings all around the world, especially in the east. Being the country of Gautam Buddha, the Buddhist pilgrimage centers in India are abundant, which attract devotees from India and abroad. India Tours was the center of Buddhist learning in the ancient times, and religious sites of those times have become the places of monumental importance today.

The Indian state of Bihar, being the focal point of Buddhism, boasts of several major Buddhist religious monument centres such as Bodh Gaya and temples like Maha Bodhi temple. Then there are monasteries such as Tabo and Namgyal in Himachal Pradesh, which have a lot of Tibetan influence on them. Similarly, hilltop buddhist monasteries of Ladakh are one of the best living traditions of Tibetan Buddhism in the world today. Also visit the Monasteries of Sikkim, which are one of their kind. Some of the northeastern states of India like Aunachal Pradesh also prides in housing some very ancient and largest monasteries in India. India Travel

Famous Buddhist Monuments in India -
Monasteries of Bihar :
Bodhgaya, Bihar : Bodhgaya is small and quiet town, which is the most important of all the Buddhist sites in the world. Apart from being a vital Buddhist centre, it is also a significant archaeological site. The major attractions of Bodh Gaya are Maha Bodhi Temple, Maha Bodhi Tree and numerous other Buddhist shrines.

Maha Bodhi Temple, Bihar : Believed to be built by emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC, the architecture of this temple is unparalleled in North India. A major attraction of this temple site is the huge Idol of Buddha in the 'Bhumisparsa Mudra'. The place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment is the greatest pilgrim centre for Buddhists of the world. Numerous monasteries constructed here by Burmese, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Bhutanese in their native architectural styles provide great attraction to tourists.

Nalanda University, Bihar : Nalanda gained prominence as an important centre of Buddhist learning from the 4th to the 12th C. AD. Many of the extant monuments at the site date from the 6th C onwards. Nalanda translates as 'the place that confers the lotus' or spiritual knowledge. A monastic university flourished here between 5th & 11th century. It is said to have housed 9 million books, with 2,000 teachers to impart knowledge to 10,000 students who came from all over the Buddhist world.

Buddhist Monastries Monasteries of Himachal Pradesh :
Himachal Pradesh in north India prides in housing several Buddhist monuments. Within the rugged landscape and harsh atmosphere of the Spiti region is situated one of the most sacred Buddhist monastery sites of India, Tabo Monastery. The landscape and aura of Dhankar Monastery in Himachal makes such a spell binding impact on the visitor who visits this Buddhist site that it becomes a visit of a lifetime.

With a majestic view of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas, Dharamsala is the seat of His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama and the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile. This small town has a large Tibetan refugee settlement and one can see monks in their robes and old Tibetans walking with rosaries in their hands or turning the prayer wheels. The main is the Namgyal monastery or the Dalai Lama’s temple. Gangchen Kyishong houses the offices of the Tibetan government in exile. Monastery of Nechung Oracle is where the official oracle of the Dalai Lama sits and one can visit the monastery and witness the daily services. Tse-Chok-Ling monastery is nestled in a quiet spot and one can visit and take part in the prayer services. The beautiful monastery of Norbulingka, is where Tibetan culture is kept alive in the form of art, paintings, handicrafts and tangkhas.

Monasteries of Ladakh :
Known as "Hermit Kingdom," Leh is situated at a height 3500 mtrs, amidst snow clad Himalayas. This is a land of snow carved peaks, translucent lakes, barren terrain and mystic culture. Perilously perched atop precipices and peaks, are about 13 major Gompas (monasteries) which remain the repositories of Buddhist mysticism. Hemis is the largest of all gompas, which was founded in the 17th century. It has an excellent library of ancient manuscripts and houses the largest tangkha in India. The Alchi Monastery, known as the jewel among all monasteries is a treasure house of 11th and 12th century Buddhist artifacts, paintings and murals, which remind one, of the paintings in far off Ajanta Caves. Other monasteries of repute are Likhir, Stok, Shey, Thiksey and Spituk. One can visit Phuktal Gompa, which is like a honeycomb cut into a rock, under a gigantic grotto. Phuktal gompa has 70 monks, who live in the caves above the monastery, where inside the caves is a water hole, whose water level never recedes. One gets transported to some bygone era, when in Ladakh. Visiting the Ladakh during monastery festivals is really a treat for all.

Monasteries of Sikkim :
Buddhist Monastry - Sikkim Situated in the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim shares its borders with Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. Sikkim is known for its gompas (monasteries) and their fascinating ceremonies. Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim, where the Research Institute of Tibetology is situated, which is a centre for the study of Buddhist philosophy & religion. Sikkim has a rare collection of priceless manuscripts, books and thangkas. The beautiful Rumtek monastery is the seat of the XVIth Gyawla Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery of Enchay was built 200 years ago and was blessed by the great tantric master Lama Druptab Karpa. About a days trip from Gangtok, is the monastery of Pemayangtse. At a height of 2085 mtrs, it presents a magnificent view of the great Himalayas. One can stay at a monastery here and learn how to meditate.

There are many more places like in Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, etc., where one can feel the sublimity, which pervades in the monasteries. The list is endless and there is much to see and experience.

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