If you are given another chance to live your life again, how many of you think that you will do better than what you have done so far? Everyone will say yes, right? What if you are given a life to live in such a way that there is no dissatisfaction and disappointment? What if you live a life with no regrets? What if you know your full potential?
The answer to all these ‘what if’s?’ is Nirvana- the Endless happiness or the Eternal bliss.
One such man who answered all these ‘what if’s?’ and who walked on this holy land in the flesh and blood was the great ‘Gautama Buddha’. He preached a great religion called ‘Buddhism’ and has spread happiness all across the world. If you are on a quest to find the essence of Buddha’s teaching, if you want to see the unique Buddhist way of life, then you should search for the Buddhist monasteries.
Buddhist monasteries are the places where all the monks and nuns live in colonies. They cut themselves off from the external world, and they are in constant search of god. They live a simple life as preached by Buddha.
Every year, many tourists come to India to visit the Buddhist monasteries. If once you come to these monasteries, then you might be a different person when you leave.
1. Buddhist Monastery of Ki in Ki Village, India
Surrounded by mountains, accompanied by river waters, the Buddhist monastery of Ki, located in Ki village is one of the most visited Buddhist monasteries in India. This monastery stands as a lone warrior at an altitude of 4,166 m above the sea level in the Spiti Valley. The moment you see this monastery, your heart will be filled with a sense of peace, pleasure, harmony and above all divine happiness.
This monastery has a great reputation for bringing out the hidden feelings of spirituality in you. You will be mesmerized to see the beauty it presents to your eye. The architecture of this monastery is so outstanding that you can’t even blink to miss its beauty.
This monastery holds an important ground in Buddhist mythology. Dromton, who is regarded as a famous Buddhist teacher, is the founder of this magnificent monastery. The monastery survived a massive earthquake in 1975 and till this day it stands strong.
2. Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh
Photo by Giridhar Appaji Nag Y
Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh has been regarded as the largest Buddhist monastery in India. It has succeeded in attracting a large number of tourists with its unique architecture and religious importance. It was placed perfectly at 3300 meters high.
The founder, of this marvelous Buddhist’s wonder is, Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso and was founded in 1680 – 1681. This monastery maintained a close religious relationship with the Drepung monastery, Lhasa.
The Tawang River flows at the foot of the mountain on which the monastery is built, which makes the scenery of this monastery even more outstanding. It is three stories tall and is surrounded with a huge 925 feet long compound wall. Tawang Monastery hosts 65 residential buildings and contains a large library embedded with valuable old scriptures.
Generally, Buddhist monks live a simple life and they stay far from the extravagant life but they also celebrate a few festivals. Torgya Festival celebrated in this monastery is the most colorful festival and worth watching.
3. Bodh Gaya, Bihar
Bodh Gaya is holy to Buddhists as Mecca is holy to Muslims. This is the birthplace of Buddhism. It is believed that this is the place where Buddha, founder of the Buddhism, obtained enlightenment. Undoubtedly, this pilgrimage place attracts more tourists than any other Buddhist place in India.
The monastery in this holy place has a lot of religious as well as historic importance. The pilgrims who come here are in search of peace. So they practice prayer, study and meditate, as these practices, according to Buddha, are the ideal ways of living a purposeful life.
The Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya has been identified as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The monasteries present at this place are outstanding examples for the richness and yet simplicity of the Buddhist civilization back in the olden days. Every Buddhist aspires to travel to this sacred monastery in search of the true Buddhism.
4. Phugtal Gompa, Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir
This monastery is so surprisingly isolated that you can’t even find anything within the area except this monastery. The monks living in this monastery generally don’t get to see persons from the outer world. It can be reached on foot but it tests your courage and patience to reach this beloved destination, Phugtal Gompa Monastery.
This monastery has given place to many scholars and teachers. In the whole Jammu and Kashmir region, it alone holds the system of caves and even it is built around these caves. This has been the prime location of retreat, meditation, and study for many legendary scholars. Many pilgrims experience spiritual transformation at this place.
A large traditional Tibetan medical clinic appears here in this monastery. It is believed that the 16 Arhats (legendary followers of Buddha) settled first in this great monastery. Their images are painted beautifully on the walls.
5. Komik Lundup Tsemo Gompa, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
This is yet another isolated monastery from the northern part of India. This monastery has a specialty that no other monasteries have in our country; it has a large Buddha statue in it. The statue appears as if a buddha is looking at all of us.
It is a major monastery of the Sakya sect of Buddhism. The walls of this place are painted red and many flags are planted in belief of Lord Buddha. Travelers and pilgrims who pass by this area never miss visiting this monastery. Local people believe that this monastery has divine nature and it keeps you away from all dangers ahead on the journey. They believe that it safeguards you by the blessings of Lord Buddha.
Rohit Agarwal is a blogger at Transindiatravels.com. He is also a blogger for several travel and tourism related websites on the internet. He possesses a great passion to explore the hidden feeling of nature and indeed he is chasing his dream and enriching us with his experiences. All photos in this presentation are freely available. Please contact Mr. Agarwal for more information and locations of these 5 Buddhist monasteries.