Monasteries in Himachal Pradesh
The state of Himachal Pradesh is proud of its population which comprises of a considerable number of Buddhist followers. Owing to this fact, it was likely and expected that this place would have several Buddhist monasteries on its land. Dalai Lama- the political and spiritual leader of the Tibetans decided to make Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh as his residence due to the strong influence and sway of Buddhist religion here. Himachal Pradesh paints itself with a very harmonious picture as it is a polished blend of Buddhist and Hindu culture.
The monasteries in Himachal Pradesh are some of the best and paramount in the country. The impact and influence of Buddhist religion can be evidently seen and is splashed around in this state. It is evident on the temples, monuments and buildings. The districts of Mcleodganj, Dharamshalam, Spiri and Lahaul comprises of several monasteries. The influence of the rich Buddhist culture and art can be seen in the magnificent Gompas and the many monasteries constructed on the mountain side. The interiors of the monasteries shine and are flushed with the beautiful murals and long thangkas.
Some of the main monasteries and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Himachal Pradesh are as follows:
Tabo Monastery : The Tabo monastery is the oldest monastery in India which preserves 9 temples, 33 deities, 23 chortens, small gompas and a chamber. This monastery which dates back to the 996 AD celebrated a millennium of its splendid existence.
Kye Monastery : This monastery which dates back to the 1000 AD comprises of exceptional paintings and magnificent scriptures of Buddha along with other gods and goddesses. Approximately three hundred lamas were trained in this monastery.
Dhankar Monastery : This monastery in North India represents the Gelugspa School of order. It comprises of mesmerizing thangka sculptures, statue of Dhyan Buddha and has about 150 monks. This monastery consists of relics in the form of sculptures and paintings.
Namgyal Monastery : The name Namgyal means victorious and ever since this monastery in Himachal Pradesh was commenced, it has helped, assisted and supported the Dalai Lamas in their religious doings. Moreover it has carried out the practice of prayer ceremonies for the welfare and wellbeing of Tibet. This is a hub of learning, training and meditation; it provides education to young Buddhists.
Guru Ghantal Gompa : This monastery which is entirely made of wood comprises of an idol devoted to the Brajeshwari Devi. Yearly a fair takes place here in the month of June known as Ghantal festival. A marble sculpture known as the Avalokiteshwara dates back to the 8th century AD.
Kardang Gompa : This is the biggest and the most popular Gompa in Himachal Pradesh. The library here comprises of the greatest collection of Tangyur and Kangyur. The store here also had a big collection of articles, dresses, tankhas and musical instruments.
Gemur Monastery : In this monastery the ‘devil dance’ is carried out in the month of July. The fascinating sculpture of the 'Marichi Vajravarahi' dates back to the 11th century AD and the figures and carvings of the goddess is beautiful and magnificent.