Buddhism as a religion and as a way of life has changed the lives of millions of people worldwide and its emphasis on practicing a peaceful existence has brought it much attention and reverence. To be the land which started the whole phenomenon and also one of the few hubs of the said religion, we can proudly boast of a number of shrines made to honor both the Great Buddha and his followers. Even though most of the monasteries are situated on the North-eastern side of the country we bring to you a chosen few ones that not only have a world of peace but also offer breathtaking views. Take a dip into serenity…
# Thikse Monastery #
The second most prominent monastery after the Hemis, the Thikse Gompa is significant because of its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa which used to be the main seat of the Dalai Lamas and hence is known as Mini Potala. Located in Ladakh in the Indus valley with a gamut of vistas below- this is the largest Gompa in the region and has plenty of light playing along its campus thanks to the use of natural materials. Built on 3,600 meters in the mid 15th century by Palden Sangpo and housing key relics such as the Stupa, thangkas, wall paintings and swords- it is quite a sight. To commemorate the arrival of the 14th Dalai Lama in 1970, a statue of Maitreya Buddha was commissioned which is about 49ft and is the largest in the region. It also houses a nunnery but what makes it to our list is its rich history as well as spectacular views of the mountains!
# Tawang Monastery #
The largest in the nation and counted amongst the largest across the globe, the Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh is a world in itself. Also known as Galden Namgey which means in Tibetan ‘celestial paradise in clear light’ – this should give you an idea as to why this features on our list. Perched at a height of 10,000 ft above sea level on three tiers and comprised of 65 residential buildings, the Parkhang library which is a veritable treasure trove of important manuscripts of the Buddhist philosophy and 10 other structures that makes up the entire Gompa; this is a complex brimming with life. The unique masked dances performed by the monks during Buddha Poornima and the Torgya festival is something to look out for. Two gaping ravines on each side and perched at that precarious height backed with green luscious mountains and a relatively offbeat destination- Planning a Getaway here can be an escape into paradise!
# Phugtal Monastery #
This monastery’s addition in the list is because of its sheer location and the fact that reaching it is probably one of the most hardest things to do. Protruding out from the mouth of a mountain cave and trickily located over a gorge in the Zanskar area of Ladakh, not only does it house some 70 monks, prayer halls and a library but also, can only be reached by a rickety suspension bridge. Although if you make it that far you will be blown away by the mere sight of it and the clear blue lake just below it. Adventure junkies are you reading this?
# Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat #
Sprawled across a verdigris 30 acre plot of soothing canopy of pine trees and on an impressive altitude atop the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh, the Palpung Monastery is a major center of Buddhism in the country and is splendid to look at at the same time! Flanked by the trademark Stupas, a visitor retreat for people to experience the meditative powers of the monastery, residence of a large number of monks and a majestic golden statue of Buddha towering over incoming people. Homestays in Himachal Pradesh can be your key to visiting this pristine monastery in all its finery!
The chanting of prayers, the fragrance of incense sticks, the golden lights, the beguiling panorama and the tranquility that envelopes as you at each of these places makes it a trip worth taking. Let this spiritual quest do wonders for your soul!