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Home >> Buddhist Monasteries in India >> Arunachal Pradesh Buddhist Monasteries

Arunachal Pradesh Buddhist Monasteries


The largest state of northeast, Arunachal Pradesh is an abode of some really significant Buddhist monasteries. A visit to them is high on the list of any Buddhist tourist to the state.

The most significant of these monasteries are Tawang Monastery, Bomdila Monastery and Urgelling Monastery. The first of these, established in 1860-61, is the largest monastery of India and second largest in Asia. Just five kilometres away from Tawang lies the Urgelling Monastery, the birthplace of His Holi Highness, the sixth Dalai Lama. Both these monasteries are associated with the Lamaistic faith of the Mahayana school of Buddhism and the Bomdilla Monastery, too, follows the same faith.

Apart from these three, other monasteries of Arunachal Pradesh include Taktsang Monastery and Rigyalling Monastery.

Details about all these monasteries are given in this section. The information will help you know more about them before you actually go there. Go through them and make your visit to Arunachal Pradesh Monasteries more interesting.

Tawang Monastery
The crown of Buddhism in Arunachal Pradesh, the Tawang monastery forms the core of the Lamaistic faith of the Mahayana school of Buddhism in the region, making it the largest monastery of India and the second largest of Asia. Also known as the 'Galden Namgyal Lhatse', the Tawang monastery was established by Merak Lama Lodre Gyamtso in the year 1860-61. The Tawang monastery, standing as high as 10,000 feet above the sea level amidst the picturesque Himalayan ranges sloping towards the east, offers a panoramic view of the Tawang-Chu valley. The monastery, which houses more than 300 monks(actual capacity 700 monks), is the main centre of spirituality and religion for the people residing in and around Tawang.

Bomdila Monastery
home to Buddhist Lamas and monks at Bomdila in the west Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, the Bomdila Gompa or monastery is one of the most prominent centres of the Lamaistic faith of Mahayana Buddhism. A replica of the Tsona Gontse monastery at Tsona in the southern Tibet, the Bomdila monastery(also known as the Gentse Gaden Rabgyel Lling monastery) was set up by the twelfth reincarnate of the Tsona Gontse Rinpoche. The reincarnate who was born in Morshing, west Kameng, had established this monastery in the year 1965 before his death in 1966. However, the Rinpoche, the thirteenth reincarnation, Tsona Gontse Rinponche renovated and enlarged the monastery by including a huge main prayer hall, which was further blessed by His Highness the 14th Holi Dalai Lama in 1997.

The Gompa comprises a prayer hall, used by the Lamas and the monks for peace prayers, a temple of the Buddha and residential quarters for the monks. Besides the prayers and tantrayana practices, the young monks are also taught about the monastic life and tradition and different subjects by the senior Lamas or the monks of the monastery.

Urgelling Monastery
The birthplace of His Holi Highness the sixth Dalai Lama, the sacred Urgelling monastery lies about five kilometers to the south of the serene Tawang town in the north eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Surrounded by the graceful Himalayas and the picturesque Tawang-Chu valley, the Urgelling monastery traces its root to the 15th century CE, when around 1489, it was established by Urgen Sangpo as a Buddhist spiritual centre.

A home to the Buddhist monks and Lamas following the Lamaistic Mahayana school of thought, the monastery became a sacred place for the Buddhists since 1683 CE, the year when the sixth Dalai Lama Ngawang Gyamtso was born to the Lama Tashi Tenzin(father) of Urgelling and Tsewang Lhamo(mother) of Bekhar. The monastery was restored and enlarged in the year 1699 by Desi Sangye Gyamtso, and now its renovated look possessed a double storied main temple, an assembly hall with eight pillars, an altar room with four pillars, a deities' chapel with two pillars, a residential quarter for His Holi Highness the sixth Dalai Lama, a chapel to practice the tantric practices, Ka-Gyur house and a courtyard with twenty rooms meant for residential quarters for the monks and the Lamas.

But the glorious days of the monastery soon came to an end in the year 1706 when His Holi Highness the sixth Dalai Lama was deposed by Lajang Khan, and subsequently so was destroyed the monastery by one of his forces in 1714. The invasion also deserted the monastery and all its treasured possessions - scriptures, statues and other holy objects went into the hands of the Tawang monastery.

After going through so many ups and downs, today the Urgelling monastery houses a single temple and shelters some of the monks who lead a simple life and practice meditation and other Buddhist practices.


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