The scenic Monasteries of Himachal Pradesh



By:Meetanjali Sood Kalra

Buddhism is one religion that originated from Magadha area and has today spread throughout the world. People from different countries come to Buddhist Monasteries in search of eternal peace. There are some Monasteries in Himachal that are equally popular in showcasing the ideas and ideas of Buddhist culture and its architecture.

Tashi Jong Monastery or Khampagar Monastery in Kangra, which is spread over 37 acres is the primary school for Tibetan teachings and can be easily reached from Palampur. The Monastery follows the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, which was established by the late 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche-Khamtrul Dongyu Nyima in 1969 after he moved from West Bengal to this place. The Monastery consists of the main temple that has the stupa of Khamtrul Rinpoche and Yamantak Retreat Center, which is otherwise not open for everyone. Tibetan population does not only inhabit the area around the temple but it is also a home to many other gaddi people.

The entire Monastery is a beautiful structure surrounded by huge garden with secondary prayer halls on either side of it. There is a craft emporium from where some good Tibetan handicrafts can be picked up at reasonable prices. Apart from this there is a retreat center where monks practice their meditations that are sometimes carried on for years and there are still few monks in the Monastery who have been meditating here since years. The 9th Khantrul- Rinpoche Shedrub Nyima heads the community at Tashi Jong, and has his followers who come from the Drukpa Kagya lineage that was founded by Tsangpa Gyare who was the disciple of Lingchen Repa. The teachings of Kagyu School took its origin from Tilopa, an Indian tantric yogi who is remembered for developing a meditation technique called Mahamudra.

Yet another Tibetan temples associated with Guru Padmasambhava are the ones at Rewalsar in Mandi district. Guru Padmasambhava who is recognized as second Buddha was one such legend who was burnt alive by the king of Mandi after being rumored to teach his daughter Dharma, which was not accepted that time. The pyre burnt for a week after which a lake appeared at the spot where he was burnt and Padmasambhava manifested himself as a 16 years old boy from within a lotus from the middle of the lake. Later on Lord Padmasambhava flew to Tibet from Rewalsar, and thus this place became a pilgrimage. Every Monastery at Rewalsar, has colorful statues of Padmasambhava, but the biggest one is about 150 feet high. The Drikung Kagyud Gompa, Nyingmapa Gompa or Zigar Gompa each one makes you feel snooping in and attracting all the attention towards their remarkable and gorgeous buildings. Where on one hand Nyingmapa is the oldest of Rewalsar’s Monasteries that were built in the 19th century, Zigar is the newest of all. The set up of the statue of Guru Padmasambhava at Zigar Monastery can be seen from a distance and is also the main allurement of Rewalsar town.

One another monastery associated with Buddhist teachings is the Namgyal Monastery at Mc.Leodganj which is now home to His Highness ‘The Dalai Lama’ and is a memorial to those who have lost their lives in the ‘ Free Tibet Campaign’. Initially the second Dalai Lama built this Monastery at Patola Palace in Tibet in the 16th century but the invasion of the Chinese over Tibet compelled many monks to take shelter with him at Mc. Leodganj, Dharamshala. The architecture of this Monastery is equally impressive and was established here with an objective that the monks could help the Dalai Lama in religious affairs and prayer ceremonies and to develop it as the center of learning and meditation on the profound Buddhist treatises. The temple has the private residence of Dalai Lama and over the period of time it has evolved into the institute of Buddhist studies. Like any other Tibetan Monastery this temple also has its unique authorization as it is responsible to maintain all the ritual practices and teachings of all four lineages of Buddhism and is the privileged one to perform the annual rituals for the spiritual benefit of Tibet and its people.




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