LEADING BUDDHIST MONASTERIES AROUND THE WORLD

Tiger's Nest Monastery, Bhutan

Buddhist monasteries are counted among the most sacred places of worship. Millions of people from different parts of the world flock to these temples of faith in search of peace.

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Ki Gompa, Spiti Valley, India

Ki Monastery is a 1,000 year old Tibetan Buddhist monastery situated prominently on the top of a hill, at an altitude of 13,667 ft. The trail leading up to the monastery has parts of the structure which has gone through several demolitions and restorations. This has resulted in a box-like structure, and the monastery now looks like a fort, where temples are built on top of one another.

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Yumbulagang Monastery, Tibet

Yumbulagang was the first ever construction in Tibet and it acted as the palace of the first Tibetan king, NyatriTsenpo. Its name means 'Palace of Mother and Son' in Tibetan. Under the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama, the palace became a monastery of the Gelugpa School. Sadly, it went through serious damages and was reduced to a single storey during the cultural uprising, before it was reconstructed in 1983.

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TaungKalat, Burma

TaungKalat is considered to be one of the most magnificent sites in Burma. To reach the monastery, visitors need to climb the 777 steps for reaching the top. The TaungKalat summit offers a beautiful panoramic view of the place. One can see the ancient city of Bagan and the giant solitary peak of Mount Popa.

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ErdeneZuu Monastery, Mongolia

The ErdeneZuu Monastery is perhaps the most ancient surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. It was built in 1585 by AbtaiSain Khan, at a time when the Tibetan version of Buddhism was introduced Mongolia. Stones from the adjacent ancient city of Karakorum were used for its construction. It is surrounded by a wall featuring 100 stupas.

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Thikse Monastery, India

Thikse Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Yellow Hat sect noted for its similarity to the Potala Palace in Lhasa. The monastery is located at an altitude of 3,600 m in the Indus valley. It is a 12-storey complex and houses beautiful pieces of Buddhist art in the form of stupas, statues and wall paintings. One of the main points of interest is the Maitreya Temple, which was installed to honour the 14th Dalai Lama's visit to the Thikse Monastery in 1970.

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Ganden Monastery, Tibet

Ganden Monastery is one of the 'great three' university monasteries of Tibet, situated at the top of Wangbur Mountain at an altitude of 14,108 ft. The other two are Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery. In 1959, the monastery was completely ruined by the Red Guards and the mummified body of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Monastery, was burned. Reconstruction of the Monastery has been in progress since the 1980s.

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PunakhaDzong, Bhutan

PunakhaDzong is one of the most picturesque of Bhutan's ancient dzongs. Dzong refers to a structure which is a blend of both fortress and monastery. Every district in Bhutan has a dzong. The PunakhaDzong is joined to the mainland by an arched wooden bridge, and contains many valuable remnants from the days when successive kings reigned the empire from this valley.

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Hemis Monastery, Ladakh

The largest, wealthiest and the most popular monastery of Ladakh, Hemis monastery is located at a distance of 40 km south-eastwards of Leh. The headquarters of all the Ladakhi monasteries, and of the Red Hat Drukpa order, this monastery was built in 1672 AD under the reign of Ladakhi Ruler SinggeNamgyal. This mammoth structure had the patronage of the royal family of the region.

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Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh

Around 19 km eastwards of Leh, Thiksey Monastery is the largest monastery of Ladakh’s central region. The monastery complex, belongs to the Yellow Hat sect of Buddhism and is a replica of the Potala Palace in Lhasa with influence from Ladakhi architecture. Lying atop a hill on the banks of Indus River, this 12-storey structure was built by the nephew of SherbZangpo, PaldanSherab in1430 AD.

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Tawang Monastery, Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh

The crown of Buddhism in the state, also known as GaldenNamgyalLhatse, Tawang Monastery is largest monastery of India and the second largest in Asia. It was founded by Merak Lama LodreGyamtso in 1860-61 on the wish of the 5th Dalai Lama NagwangLobsangGyatso. Thus, it is the core of Lamaistic faith of the Mahayana school of Buddhism in the north-eastern part of the country. The complex is placed at an altitude of 10,000 feet and offers stunning views of Tawang-Chu Valley.

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Namgyal Monastery, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

Founded himself by the third Dalai Lama, NamgyalMonastyery is one of the most famous monasteries in India as well as world. The monastery complex also has another monastery, several temples and a few learning institutions in its complex. For the betterment of Tiber, special prayers are conducted here every day. At the Gompa, around 150 students learn about religion, tantra and sutra.

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Rumtek Monastery, Gangtok, Sikkim

One of the largest monasteries in Sikkim, RumtekGompa is dedicated to the Kargyu sect of Buddhism, and finds its roots back to a 12th century in Tibet. This monastery is a replica of the original one in Tsurphu. This monastery was founded in 1960s by the 16th Karmapa, Gyalwa Karmapa. From the top, one can enjoy wonderful views of Gangtok town.

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Diskit Monastery, Leh

One of the largest and the oldest monasteries in Leh, DiskitGompa was founded in the 14th century by ChangzemTserabZangpo, who was a disciple of Tsongkhapa. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect, or the ‘Yellow Hat’ sect of Buddhism. With ceiling and wall paintings, the monastery looks like TashilhunpoGompa of Tibet. The complex also has a number of other shrines.

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Bouddhanath Monastery, Nepal

Bouddhanath Monastery, Nepal’s largest monastery located east of Kathmandu. It is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world. BoudhanathStupa is one of Nepal’s most holy sites for the Buddhist faith. The atmosphere of the whole place lightens up with zest as the fragrance of incense drifts through the air. This Stupa, a well-known Buddhist pilgrimage site, is included in the World Heritage Cultural site list by UNESCO. After the Chinese invasion in 1959, Tibetans in thousands came to this famous Buddhist Chaitya and energized the Stupa. In the Tibetan New Year, the most popular festival Lhosar celebrated here every February.

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Shanti stupa, Leh

Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed stupa (chorten) on a hilltop in Chanspa, Leh district, Ladakh, in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, GyomyoNakamuraand part of the Peace Pagoda mission. The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama. The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

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