There are only a few places that one can go to and attain the gushing flow of peace that has the power to walk over you and relax you in ways you can imagine. Now couple that feeling with wonderful architecture and religious sentiment. Such places are hard to find, but one of the few places that do offer these under the same roof are Buddhist monasteries.
I have had the pleasure of visiting a few Buddhist monasteries in India, and the ambience of peace that surrounded me was rejuvenating for the soul. Buddhist monasteries are a whole world among themselves, from the unique culture of their monks to the marvellous architecture that makes these places of worship resplendent.
Millions of people from all over the world visit these monasteries in search of enlightenment and peace. The monasteries are also counted among the most sacred and holiest places of worship.
There are many Buddhist monasteries around the world, and while all of them are beautiful and serene, there are some that cross all levels of beauty and can be referred to was some of the best Buddhist monasteries from all over the world:
Ki Gompa, Spiti Valley, India
India can be called the birthplace of Buddhism, even great rulers like Ashoka embraced the religion and decided to spread it all over the world. India is blessed with several Buddhist Monasteries that are erected marvellously in the country. One of the most amazing ones is Key Gompa or Ki Monastery, which is almost a thousand year old. This Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery which is situated proudly at the top of a mountain, at an altitude of 13,667 ft. The height is gigantic and the trail leading to this monastery is wonderful and an experience of a lifetime. The monastery has a very different look from the usual structures of a monastery since it has gone through several demolitions and restorations. Now the Monastery resembles a box-like structure and seems like a fort. The temples are built on top of the other, which gives it a strikingly unique look.
Thiksey Monastery, India
Thikse Monastery is another resplendent monastery located in India. It belongs to the Yellow Hat sect and is similar to the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Located at an altitude of 3,600 m, it overlooks the famous India Valley civilisation.
The monastery complex has 12 storeys and is home to amazing Buddhist art in the form of stupas, statues and murals. The artwork is a great cultural study, and you can learn a lot from the different artworks that are found in this serene monastery.
Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan
Bhutan has a strong and dominant culture of Buddhism, thus, it comes as no surprise that a monastery in Bhutan is one of the most beautiful monasteries in the world.
The Taktsang Monastery or the Tiger’s Nest is precariously located at the edge of a 900 m cliff. One of the must-visit places in Bhutan, this Monastery is amazing and awe-inducing in many ways. The whole journey to reach there and getting that glimpse of the beautiful monastery from afar is spellbinding. You have to trek through some intimidating yet thrilling terrain to get to the monastery. After the trek, the iconic downward bridge with colourful flags placed all over the bridge gives it an amazing aura.
The Monastery has a strong legend that believes that Guru Rinpoche climbed on the back of a tigress and flew from Tibet to come here and rest in a cave. Since then, this place is not just named the Tiger’s Nest, but also many believe that any wild animal in this sacred place can be domesticated and tamed.
Punakha Dzong, Bhutan
Proudly standing on a wonderful island right in the midst of the confluence of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers. Punakha Dzong is one of the most picturesque places in Bhutan.
Filled with culture and anecdotes about the rulers of Bhutan, this monastery is much more than just another religious centre. It is a fortress, a history lesson and a monastery. You will be mesmerised to see the real beauty that surrounds this monastery. We guarantee you, that you will be unable to take your eyes and heart off this monastery.
Yumbulagang Monastery, Tibet
This monastery comes with a slice of history. It is said and believed that Yumbulagang was the first ever construction that took place in Tibet, and was it was a palace for the first king of Tibet Nyatri Tsenpo. What makes this monastery was awe-inspiring is the surroundings. The monastery sits atop a hill and overlooks the vast green hills and meadows. The hills and the vast meadows make the place look ever so heavenly. You can feel a sense of peace and aura even before you enter the monastery.
Yumbulagang was turned into a monastery under the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. It had gone through some serious damage during the cultural uprising in Tibet, but it has never lost its charm and the power to feel you with a sense of purpose the moment you walk into it. It was reconstructed in 1983, and now hosts a horde of visitors and pilgrims on a daily basis.
Hanging Monastery, China
Just as the name suggests, this monastery is suspended terrifying halfway up a cliff, which is about 75 m above the ground. This monastery makes for one of the most extraordinary and iconic sights in China. The architecture is intricate and complex. The thought behind the monastery was remarkable. There are about 40 rooms which are all linked together by some mid-air corridors and walkways. It looks extremely dangerous, but you are sure to get a high after talking inside this unique and thrilling monastery. It was built in the 5th Century AD, and since then it has just been dangling on that cliff for the past 1500 years.
Lama Temple, Beijing
This Monastery is said to be one of the largest Buddhist Monastery in the World. Situated in the northeastern part of Beijing, his monastery was built by the Chinese emperors who had a keen interest in the Tibetan take on Buddhism. This Monastery is built on the ideas of Tibetan Buddhism, and its architecture reflects the same.
Many Tibetan and Mongolian monks have lived and taught in this monastery since its inception.
The monastery also has a 26 m high statue of Maitreya Buddha. The statue is not just remarkable to look at but the fact that it was made with only one single piece of white sandalwood, is what truly makes it special and admirable.
Taung Kalat, Burma
Resting above the cloud, this heavily abode sits atop an extinct Volcano. Taung Kalat is not just considered to be one of the most splendid sights in Burma but also ranks high on the list of the best Buddhist monasteries in the world.
The journey up to the monastery can be tiring since you have to climb 777 steps, but somehow your body will never be exhausted as you will find yourself in midst of several pilgrims devoted to the religion. The humble chanting of the pilgrims is sure to live your spirits up as well.
Once you reach the monastery, you are sure to be awestruck by the wonderful panoramic views of Burma.
Erdene Zuu Monastery, Mongolia
One of the most ancient surfing monasteries in Mongolia, Erdene Zuu holds a special place in the hearts of the locals. Built way back in 1585, by Abtai Sain Khan, this monastery was erected in the Tibetan style and is magnificent in every way. What truly makes this monastery special to look at, are the 100 stupas that surround the wall. The stones used for the construction of this monastery was originally procured from the ancient city of Karakorum.
Ganden Monastery, Tibet
This marvellous monastery also finds its mention as one of the great three university monasteries in Tibet. It is located at a great height of 14,108 ft and is perched atop the Wangbur Mountain. The monastery was destroyed by the Red Guards in 1959, and the mummified body of Tsongkhapa, who was also the founder of this Monastery, was brutally burned. The Monastery has been under reconstruction ever since. But even the monastery is wonderful to visit and walk around. The lush green fields that are spread across the hills make sit for a pleasant walk.