Buddhist monasteries can be found throughout northern India’s mountainous regions near Nepal and Tibet borders, offering stunning vistas for meditation, chanting, and prayerful reflection. There are so many beautiful Buddhist monasteries in India to consider.
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Monasteries emerged through the practice of vassa, in which wandering monks sought alms or charity while seeking alms themselves. Later, these monasteries would be constructed at key Buddhist locations like Lumbini in which Buddha was born, and Bodh Gaya where he attained Enlightenment.
Tabo Monastery, one of the most beautiful Buddhist monasteries in India, often dubbed as the Ajanta of the Himalayas, is an iconic temple complex located in Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Renowned for its magnificent frescoes and murals depicting various Jataka stories, it was founded by Rinchen Zangpo the Great Translator in 996 CE with nine temples and stupas dedicated to Lord Buddha; each has intricate carvings, paintings, and decorations; its main hall also houses an extensive library containing old manuscripts thankas statues while monks use meditation caves cut into its rock face for prayers.
The monastery is protected as a national historic treasure and welcomes heritage tourism, providing one of the region’s premier centers of learning. Additionally, this is also where the Kalachakra ritual originated and which is celebrated every year at this monastery.
An important feature of the monastery is its Assembly Hall, featuring a four-fold figure of Vairochana made of silver and gold that stands in front of exquisite murals and stucco paintings reminiscent of Central Asian and Tibetan influences. Additionally, monks at this monastery are engaged in research to learn more about Vajradhatu through transmission and practice; working alongside scholars, art historians, tantric priests, Classical Indian dancers, and students of Buddhism to achieve this aim.
As well as its main temple, there are a variety of shrines and stupas within the monastery complex – some dating back to earlier construction periods; the rest being from later ones. Furthermore, there is also a guesthouse, library, and helipad at this monastery.
Tabo, situated at the heart of the Himalayas, can be reached easily by road, rail, and air transport. It offers excellent connectivity to major cities across north and west India – Dehradun being its nearest railway station while Shimla is another option. However, visitors should avoid visiting during winter as temperatures can be extremely cold with heavy snowfall closing roads regularly preventing travel to Tabo monastery.
Thiksey Monastery is one of Ladakh’s top attractions. As the largest gompa in the region, it provides stunning views of snowcapped mountains and dry landscapes while being home to Buddhist monks. Furthermore, this monastery provides many facilities including a medical clinic, hotel/restaurant dining facility, souvenir shops as well as morning prayer synchronized chanting of Buddhist sutras for visitors’ viewing pleasure. An entry fee of 20 rupees applies to both domestic and foreign tourists.
This monastery is dedicated to the Gelug or Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism and comprises a large complex of temples and prayer rooms on a hillside, about 12 miles east of Leh, Ladakh’s capital city. The monastery is well known for its 15-foot-tall statue of Maitreya Buddha as well as beautiful wall paintings; every October or November they host their Gustor Festival for local villagers from throughout Ladakh who come here to trade items and socialize.
Thiksey Monastery features not only main temples and shrines but also numerous stupas and religious artifacts – the most famous of these is the Wheel of Life which symbolizes life’s cycle from birth to death; depicting birds, snakes, and pigs running around an inner wheel representing attachment, aversion, and ignorance which cause suffering in this world. Furthermore, Thiksey also offers several beautiful murals which add an additional level of interest.
Thiksey Monastery also houses an extensive library that boasts ancient texts and manuscripts from both Tibet and India, making it one of Ladakh’s premier libraries. Additionally, monks at this monastery teach traditional Tibetan arts to locals.
Thiksey can be reached via air travel to Leh, which is approximately 30 minutes from its monastery. From there, visitors can take a cab directly to Thiksey – situated at 11,800 feet with stunning views of both the Himalayas and the Indus River from here.
Monasteries attract Buddhist travelers from across the globe due to their spiritual energy and are known for providing a tranquil sanctuary where one can unwind from life’s stresses. Furthermore, these monasteries serve as great educational sources and make great stops when looking into Buddhist history or practices. Additionally, many monasteries offer prayer services or host various other activities throughout the year like yoga and meditation practice sessions for visitors to experience.
At this magnificent monastery are various temples and shrine rooms, creating one of the most stunning Buddhist monasteries in India. One of the most notable of these is The Great Stupa, built to benefit all living beings and promote world peace; it features statues of Buddha Shakyamuni, Avalokiteshvara, and Guru Padmasambhava as well as its serene atmosphere that draws visitors from around the globe.
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Padmasambhava and his disciples concealed numerous scriptures, objects for ritual functions, and numerous relics during this period of decline in rocks and caves of mountain ranges hiding they there in rocks or caves; later discovered by tertons who later collected these objects into terma teachings which they then passed along to followers as terma teachings which helped practitioners attain enlightenment and liberation.
At the monastery, there are also relics and objects of historical interest that attract visitors, most notably sacred thangkas and murals depicting different teachings of Buddha which can help instill devotion in viewers. Furthermore, educational courses for both teachers and students provide an incredible opportunity for insight into Tibetan culture and tradition.
Monasteries host various activities throughout the year, such as celebrating Tibetan New Year. Based on the lunar calendar, this festival lasts approximately two weeks and includes traditional Lama dances, oversize thankga hanging from buildings, solemn processions, and traditional Lama dance performances.
As well, the monastery offers events for its devotees and the wider dharma community to celebrate special holidays and festivals that provide opportunities to learn more about Buddhism, its philosophy, deity yoga, and subtle body practices.
Bodhgaya (pronounced goo-dha) is a town located in Bihar State in northeast India associated with Siddhartha Gautama’s awakening – more commonly known as Buddha – under a Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya, Bihar State. Buddhist pilgrims visit this sacred site around the world in reverence of their founder who meditated there until reaching Nirvana or freedom from suffering.
Mahabodhi Temple Complex, situated along India’s Phalgu Riverbanks is an important Buddhist monument and World Heritage Site that attracts large numbers of visitors from both Buddhism and Hinduism. Truly one of the best Buddhist monasteries in India.
A major highlight is the Bodhi Tree where Buddha attained enlightenment; a few centuries after his death a stone platform or “Diamond Throne” was added at its base – serving as another focus of devotion at this holy site.
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The main temple was constructed during Emperor Asoka’s rule during the third century B.C. It has since been altered numerous times and currently comprises three main parts: Mahabodhi stupa, Bodhi tree itself, and Shikharik Palace – making this monastery one of Bodhgaya’s primary attractions for pilgrims.
Sujata Stupa, a large white mound that marks where Buddha broke his wish-granting bowl, and its adjacent Buddha Chaitya are two features worth seeing. Furthermore, these structures host an image of Buddha within a niche located between two pillars as part of this ancient structure’s design.
Other landmarks on campus include the Asokan platform, where Buddha sat for meditation; the Asokan tree which serves as its patron; its trunk is decorated with colorful textiles, while votive candles decorate its base; monks perform prostrations and pray on the Asokan platform while pilgrims pay their respects to Buddha there; as well as being where the dharma wheel is spun!