Historic Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in India
Table of Contents
- 1 - The origin of Buddhist monasteries in India
- 2 - Tibetan Buddhist monasteries & temples
- 2.1 - Tibetan Nuns Project
- 2.2 - Namgyal Monastery
- 2.3 - Sera Monastery
- 2.4 - Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
- 2.5 - Ganden Monastery
- 2.6 - Rumtek Monastery
- 2.7 - Tabo Monastery
- 2.8 - Dzongkhul Monastery
- 2.9 - Mindrolling Monastery
- 2.10 - Basgo Monastery
- 2.11 - Rato Dratsang
- 2.12 - Salugara Monastery
- 2.13 - Urgelling Monastery
- 2.14 - Wanla Monastery
- 2.15 - Tholung Monastery
- 2.16 - Yangyang Monastery
- 2.17 - Taktse Ogyen Choekhorling Monastery
- 2.18 - Sinon Monastery
- 2.19 - Simik Monastery
- 2.20 - Shurishing Yungdrung Dungdrakling Monastery
- 2.21 - Shey Monastery
- 2.22 - Alchi Monastery
- 2.23 - Shashur Monastery
- 2.24 - Sani Monastery
- 2.25 - Bardan Monastery
- 2.26 - Phyang Monastery
- 2.27 - Mag-Dhog Yolmowa Monastery
- 2.28 - Kursha Monastery
- 2.29 - Kagyu Thekchen Ling Monastery
- 2.30 - Hundur Monastery
- 2.31 - Hee Gyathang Monastery
- 2.32 - Gnathang Monastery
- 2.33 - Dhankar Gompa
- 2.34 - Bomdila Monastery
- 2.35 - Bermiok Monastery
- 2.36 - Zangla Monastery
The origin of Buddhist monasteries in India
The Mauryan Empire reached its peak at the time of emperor Ashoka, who converted to Buddhism after the Battle of Kalinga.
In 2018, excavations in Lalitgiri in Odisha by archaeological survey of India revealed four monasteries along with ancient seals and inscriptions which show cultural continuity from post-Mauryan period to 13 century CE.
The Kushan Empire under emperor Kaniṣka ruled the strongly Buddhist region of Gandhara as well as other parts of northern India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Kushan rulers were supporters of Buddhist institutions, and built numerous stupas and monasteries.
Under the rule of the Pāla and Sena kings, large mahavihars flourished in what is now Bihar and Bengal.
In Bihar and Bengal, many Buddhist shrines and temples have remained intact with the Buddha or Bodhisattva inside, being appropriated and worshipped as a Brahmanical deity.
Tibetan Buddhist monasteries & temples
Tibetan Buddhists have also contributed to the building of temples and institutions in the Buddhist sites and ruins of India.
This is a list of some well-known Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and temples in India.
Tibetan Nuns Project
The Tibetan Nuns Project is a non-profit organisation founded in 1987 dedicated to educating and supporting female Buddhist monastics in India from all Tibetan Buddhist lineages. It supports nuns interested in study and higher ordination. The mission of the Tibetan Nuns Project is to educate and empower nuns of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition as teachers and leaders; and to establish, strengthen, and support educational institutions to preserve the Tibetan religion and culture. The organisation supports seven nunneries and over 700 nuns in India.
Namgyal Monastery is currently located in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, India. It is the personal monastery of the 14th Dalai Lama. Another name for this temple-complex is Namgyal Tantric College.
Sera Monastery is one of the “great three” Gelug university monasteries of Tibet, located 1.25 miles (2.01 km) north of Lhasa and about 5 km (3.1 mi) north of the Jokhang. The other two are Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery. The origin of its name is attributed to a fact that during construction, the hill behind the monastery was covered with blooming wild roses.
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, founded in 1447 by the 1st Dalai Lama, is a historic and culturally important monastery in Shigatse, the second-largest city in Tibet.
Ganden Monastery or Ganden Namgyeling is one of the “great three” Gelug university monasteries of Tibet, China. It is in Dagzê County, Lhasa. The other two are Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery. Ganden Monastery was founded in 1409 by Je Tsongkhapa Lozang-dragpa, founder of the Gelug order. The monastery was destroyed after 1959, but has since been partially rebuilt. Another monastery with the same name and tradition was established in Southern India in 1966 by Tibetan exiles.
Rumtek Monastery, also called the Dharmachakra Centre, is a gompa located in the Indian state of Sikkim near the capital Gangtok. It is a focal point for the sectarian tensions within the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism that characterize the Karmapa controversy.
Tabo Monastery is located in the Tabo village of Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, northern India. It was founded in 996 CE in the Tibetan year of the Fire Ape by the Tibetan Buddhist lotsawa (translator) Rinchen Zangpo, on behalf of the king of western Himalayan Kingdom of Guge, Yeshe-Ö. Tabo is noted for being the oldest continuously operating Buddhist enclave in both India and the Himalayas. A large number of frescoes displayed on its walls depict tales from the Buddhist pantheon. There are many priceless collections of thankas, manuscripts, well-preserved statues, frescos and extensive murals which cover almost every wall. The monastery is in need of refurbishing as the wooden structures are aging and the thanka scroll paintings are fading. After the earthquake of 1975, the monastery was rebuilt, and in 1983 a new Du-kang or Assembly Hall was constructed. It is here that the 14th Dalai Lama held the Kalachakra ceremonies in 1983 and 1996. The monastery is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as a national historic treasure of India.
Mindrolling Monastery, is one of the six major monasteries of the Nyingma school in Tibet. It was founded by Rigzin Terdak Lingpa in 1676. Tendrak Lingpa’s lineage is known as the Nyo lineage. The name in Tibetan means “Place of Perfect Emancipation”. It is located in Zhanang County, Shannan Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, approximately 43 kilometers east of the Lhasa airport, on the south side of the Tsangpo river.
Basgo Monastery, also known as Basgo or Bazgo Gompa, is a Buddhist monastery located in Basgo or Bazgo in Leh District, Ladakh, northern India approximately 40 km from Leh.
Rato Dratsang, also known as Rato Monastery, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery or monastic university of the Gelug or “Yellow Hat” tradition. Rato was, for many centuries, one of the major monastic colleges in Tibet.
Salugara Monastery is among the most frequented revered places, located in the outskirts of Siliguri. Located 6 km from the city, the Buddhist shrine is visited by tourists for meditation. The ideal tranquil location for meditation was established by Tibetan monks and followers of religious leader the Dalai Lama.
Urgelling Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India.
Wanla Gompa is a historic Buddhist monastery on the ridge that crowns Wanla village in Ladakh of Jammu and Kashmir, India. Its small but impressively preserved three-storeyed Avalokitesvara temple is one of the earliest known Drigung Kagyu prayer chambers to have survived in Ladakh. Wanla is a sub-monastery of Lamayuru which provides a caretaker monk responsible for daily rituals and for granting access to the temple. The main image features Avalokitesvara in 11-headed (“Chuchigzhel”) form.
Tholung Monastery is a gompa located in remote upper Dzongu, in the buffer zone of Khangchendzonga National Park. It is considered one of the most sacred monasteries in Sikkim. Tholung literally means Areasima place or Areasima country.
Yangyang Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Sikkim, northeastern India.
Taktse Ogyen Choekhorling Monastery
Taktse Ogyen Choekhorling Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Sikkim, northeastern India.
Sinon Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Sikkim, northeastern India.
Simik Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Sikkim, northeastern India.
Shurishing Yungdrung Dungdrakling Monastery
Shurishing Yungdrung Dungdrakling Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Sikkim, northeastern India.
The Shey Monastery or Gompa and the Shey Palace complex are structures located on a hillock in Shey, 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the south of Leh in Ladakh, northern India on the Leh-Manali road. Shey was the summer capital of Ladakh in the past.
Alchi Monastery or Alchi Gompa is a Buddhist monastery, known more as a monastic complex (chos-‘khor) of temples in Alchi village in the Leh District, of the Indian state under the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council of Jammu and Kashmir. The complex comprises four separate settlements in the Alchi village in the lower Ladakh region with monuments dated to different periods. Of these four hamlets, Alchi monastery is said to be the oldest and most famous. It is administered by the Likir Monastery.
Shashur or Sashur Monastery is a Buddhist monastery of the Drugpa sect in Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, northern India. It is located 137 kilometres from Manali. Sha-shur means “blue pines” in the local dialect, as patches of blue pine can be seen around the monastery.
Sani Monastery, Sa-ni-[tshog], is located next to the village of Sani where the Stod Valley broadens into the central plain of Zanskar in Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. It is about 6 km to the northwest of the regional centre of Padum, a gentle two-hour walk. Like Dzongkhul Monastery, it belongs to the Drukpa Kargyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, and is the only one of this order in Zanskar which has nuns. It is thought to be the oldest religious site in the whole region of Ladakh and Zanskar.
Bardan Monastery or Bardan Gompa is a 17th-century Buddhist monastery, approximately 12 kilometres south of Padum, in Zanskar, Ladakh, northern India at the side of the Lungnak river. It belongs to the Dugpa-Kargyud monastic order and was one of the first monasteries of this sect to be established in Zanskar. The monastery also ran several smaller hermitages in the area.
Phyang Monastery, Phyang Gompa is a Buddhist monastery located in Fiang village, just 15 or 16 kilometres west of Leh in Ladakh, northern India. It was established in 1515.
Mag-Dhog Yolmowa Monastery
Mag-Dhog Yolmowa Monastery is a gompa in the town of Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal. The monastery is also known as “Aloobari” monastery after the locality it is located in. The monastery was built under the supervision of Sri Sangay Lama, a highly revered religious head of the Yolmo people – a small ethnic group hailing from north-east of Nepal and who later settled in Darjeeling. The construction of the monastery started in 1914, the year World War I started. The name Mag-Dhog means warding off the war and the monastery was dedicated for world peace.
Karsha Monastery or Karsha Gompa is a Buddhist monastery in the Padum Valley of the Zanskar region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. The Doda River flows past the monastery from its source at the Drang Drung glacier of the Pensi La. It was founded by the translator, Phagspa Shesrab. The monastery, also known by the name “Karsha Chamspaling’, was founded by Phagspa Shesrab, under the Gelugpa Order or the Yellow Hat Order.
Kagyu Thekchen Ling Monastery
Kagyu Thekchen Ling Monastery, also known as Ratnarishi Bihar Buddhist Gumpa or simply Lava Monastery, is a Buddhist monastery situated in Lava, West Bengal, India.
Hundur Monastery, also known as Hundur Gompa, is a Buddhist monastery in the Hundar village, in Nubra Valley of Ladakh, northern India. It is located near Diskit Monastery and Lachung Temple, situated just below the main road, near the bridge.
Hee Gyathang Monastery
Hee Gyathang Monastery is a Buddhist monastery situated in Upper Dzongu, North Sikkim in northeastern India. It was built by hemit Abi Putso Rangdrol in 1914.
Gnathang Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Sikkim in northeastern India. The monastery is about 100 years old.
Dhankar Gompa is a village and also a Gompa, a Buddhist temple in the district of Lahaul and Spiti in India. It is situated at an elevation of 3,894 metres in the Spiti Valley above Dhankar Village, between the towns of Kaza and Tabo. The complex is built on a 1000-foot (300-metre) high spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers – one of the world’s most spectacular settings for a gompa. Dhang or dang means cliff, and kar or khar means fort. Hence Dhangkar means fort on a cliff.
Bomdila Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India.
Bermoik Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Sikkim, northeastern India.
Current day Zangla Village has no Monastery only a Nunnery. Zangla Palace is sometimes called Zangla Monastery due to a mistake made first probably by Tivadar Duka, biographer of Alexander Csoma de Kőrös, and later by Ervin Baktay, an Indologist who visited Zangla in 1928 to identify the locations related to Alexander Csoma de Kőrös, and suffering from malaria fever, described Zangla Palace – probably due to the Shrine and some monks living there – as a Monastery.