Darjeeling, which roughly translates into, “the land of the thunderbolt”, in Tibetan was a gift to the East India Company by the then Sikkim king in the year 1816. Darjeeling was seen by the British as an ideal haven for recuperation for the sick on account of its location and salubrious climate. Darjeeling has since then been a gem of a hill station in India where families and honeymooning couples flock to lose themselves in its ethereal and natural beauty. The pristine nature of Darjeeling and its air also seems to have the power to breed spirituality and this can be seen by the numerous monasteries that dot Darjeeling and its vicinity. Each of these monasteries are the epitome of peace and tranquillity and great places for people looking forward to a meditative getaway, far from the monotony of materialism. Here are 7 monasteries in and around Darjeeling that will literally disconnect you from the world.
Old Ghum Monastery
As you travel on the winding road that takes you to a height of about 7,407 feet to the Yiga Choeling Monastery, you feel as if the worries and stresses of the world are dropping away. This monastery is popularly known as Ghoom Monastery or Old Ghum Monastery and is about 7 Kms. away from the town of Darjeeling. The Monastery was built in the year 1850 and is aligned to what is known as the Yellow Hat Sect or Gelupka. The Monastery has an exquisite facade and spectacular views of the valley and surrounding snow peaks. A 15 Feet statue of the Buddha and known as Maitreya Buddha occupies the central position in the sanctum sanctorum. Two huge oil lamps burn constantly in silent benediction in front of the Buddha statue.
At a distance of around 5 Kms. on the top of a steep hill is perched an intriguing building in white, built in typical Tibetan architectural style. This is the Dali monastery whose actual name is Druk Sangag Choling Monastery. The Monastery is of the Kargyupa sect and was built in 1971. As soon as you enter the monastery, you step into a different world of peace and serenity, the sounds of chanting, the sight of the young monks and the atmosphere that seems to be surcharged with spirituality takes you on a spiritual voyage of sorts.
Bhutia Basti Monastery
Just about 1.5Kms. From the bustling Chow Rasta of Darjeeling is situated an oasis of peace which goes by the name of Bhutia Basti Monastery. Looking at the peaceful monastery one can scarcely imagine the troubled past that monastery has gone through. The original monastery was built as early as the year 1761 at a different location. Since then it has been plundered by invading armies, destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in a changed location. The present structure of the monastery is a visual treat and is a blend of Tibetan and Sikkimese architecture.
This monastery is located in the Aloobari area of Darjeeling at a distance of about 2 Kms. from the town. Its actual name is Yolmowa Mak Dhog Monastery. Mak Dhog which translates to “warding of the war”, was an appropriate name as the monastery was built as a symbol of peace in the year 1914 when the First World War was raging. Statues of Buddha and Padmasambhava and paintings adorn the inside of the monastery which also houses some very ancient manuscripts.
Samten Choling Monastery
This monastery is also referred to as Ghum Monastery and is on the way to the Old Ghum Monastery. The monastery houses a big 26 Feet statue of the Buddha. An evening or morning spent in the tranquil environs of the monastery listening to the ethereal chanting of the monks is a great experience.
The Thongsa Gompa is a monastery that is situated about 55 Kms. from Darjeeling in Kalimpong. The monastery was built in the year 1692 and is one of the oldest of its kind. This monastery is famous as the Bhutanese monastery and is considered very sacred and pure. People from across the world reach this monastery to seek inner peace and bliss in its serene environs.
Tharpa Choeling Gompa
The Tharpa Choling Gompa or Monastery is also situated in Kalimpong near Darjeeling and was established in the year 1912.The monastery also houses a unique Chinese temple. The Monastery is set amidst beautiful locales and nestles high above Kalimpong and offers breath-taking views and is ensconced in a womb of serenity.
These monasteries beckon you with their aura of tranquillity and bliss and are sure to take you on a spiritually rejuvenating and rewarding experience. You can experience the magic of these monasteries conveniently when you stay at the Sterling Darjeeling.