Zen State Of Mind: 6 Popular Monasteries of West Bengal You Must Visit

West Bengal has always been a melting pot of different religions, cultures and ethnic groups. Buddhism permeates the soul and soil of West Bengal with its magnificent monasteries, stupas, chaityas (prayer halls) and ancient seats of learning. Here are six monasteries you must visit.

Ghoom Monastery

Located in Ghoom at an elevation of 7,000 feet (8 km from Darjeeling), the monastery belongs to the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat sect and is famous for its 15-ft high special statue of the Maitreya Buddha. You can go through many ancient texts of Buddhism stored in this monastery. Channel your inner zen here as this place is perfect for an introspection.

Tharpa Choling Monastery

Situated at a hilltop in Kalimpong, this monastery was founded by Domo Geshe Rinpoche Ngawang Kalsang in 1912. Pay your respects at the monastery and, interact with the monks who will entertain you with stories of the many adventures of Rinpoche. Don’t forget to check out the excellent carpets, woollen goods, wood work and leather work produced by the Tibetan craftsmen here.

Religious Establishments

Tharpa Choling Monastery

Tirpai, Kalimpong, West Bengal

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    Bokar Ngedon Chokhor Ling Monastery

    Located at the highest point of Mirik at an altitude of 5,800 ft, the views of the lake and its surroundings from this monastery are astounding. One of the most prominent Buddhist centres in the region, the monastery is home to around 500 monks who practise the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha.

    Mag-Dhog Yolmowa Monastery

    Situated in Darjeeling, also known as 'Aloobari' monastery after the locality it is situated in, this monastery was built under the supervision of Sri Sangay Lama, a highly revered religious head of the Yolmowa sect hailing from northeast Nepal. The construction of the monastery started in 1914, same year as the World War I. Keeping the war in mind, the monastery was named 'Mag-Dhog', meaning 'to do away with war'. You need to experience the tranquility here to know why it was hailed as a symbol for world peace during troubled times.

    Religious Establishments

    Magdhog Monastery

    Alubari, Darjeeling, West Bengal

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      Hsuan Tsang Monastery

      Locally known as the China Mandir, this monastery in Paschim Chowbaga (outskirts of Kolkata) will remind you of one of its counterparts built high up in the Himalayas. The two storied Hsuan Tsang Monastery has prayers halls on both floors adorned in brightly coloured frescos. It also houses a statue of the famed Chinese traveller, who visited India during the reign of Raja Harshavardhan. The memorial hall, which contains the statue, also doubles up as a library housing a rare collection of Chinese religious books.

      Tamang Monastery

      Equidistant from Siliguri and Darjeeling, Tamang Monastery is a hotspot for spiritual seekers, students of Buddhism and travellers. You will be enthralled by the intricate art works on the inner and outer walls of the monastery. The monastery also affords great views of the majestic snow capped Kanchenjunga and the nearby Sumendu Lake (a manmade lake 1.25 km long famous for boating and fishing).