Authored by Himanshu Agarwal
When thinking of religion in India it’s generally Hinduism which comes to mind. But Buddhism is also well practiced here, especially in the high altitude regions of the north, and there many incredible monasteries to see.
Monasteries are considered to be one of the most holy and sacred places in the country. Every year millions of people travel to the mountains of northern India in search of eternal peace. Some monasteries are easy to reach while others are remarkably secluded, so remotely located that reaching them is no easy feat.
You need to be physically fit to reach the following Indian monasteries, but those willing to travel off the beaten path will reap the rewards. The most secluded monasteries in India are also some of the most spectacular. Set among gorges and steep slopes, they offer splendid isolation from the world in their surroundings.
For those looking for a vacation off the beaten path, we recommend the following secluded monasteries. Many provide good accommodation facilities for tourists. The journey may be rigorous and unassuming but few things can compare to the bliss that manifests once you arrive.
5 Secluded Monasteries in India
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Buddhist Monastery of Ki, Ki Village, India
Located in the Spiti Valley at an altitude of 4,166 m, the Buddhist Monastery of Ki is a sight to behold. With its old-world charm and isolation, it rings out a surreal feeling from the moment you first catch a glimpse of it.
You can’t help but feel as though you have been transported to a fabled land when looking down upon this the monastery of Ki, half-expecting mythological creatures to suddenly gallop forward!
This Tibetan monastery was founded in the 11th century and has endured many assails of the Mongols during the 14th and 19th centuries. The three-storied monastery has numerous murals which are borne from 14th century monastic architecture. It also houses several scripts and images of Buddha. The Ki Monastery also endured an earthquake in 1975.
Phugtal Gompa, Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir
Ladakh is a region which served as Buddhist Kingdom in ancient times, and of the many places to visit here, this is where you will find a remarkably isolated monastery, the Phugtal Gompa.
Located in the Zanskar region in the Lungnak Valley of Ladakh, this is one of the few monasteries that can be reached by foot. Do note however it can take a full day’s journey to reach this secluded dwelling.
This is a humble yet striking construction that perches upon a cliff laterally and has endured several centuries of exposure to natural elements. This monastery also has a traditional Tibetan medical clinic that looks into the well being of the local population.
Believed to be the first settlement of the 16 Arhats (legendary followers of Buddha), their images adorn the walls. A stone tablet remains as a testament to Alexander Csoma de Koros, the Hungarian philotolist and Orientalist, who stayed here when he was working on the English-Tibetan dictionary.
Diskit Gompa, Nubra Valley, Ladakh
The Diskit Monastery lies in the secluded Nubra Valley of Ladakh in northern India. Built in the 14th century, the Diskit Gompa houses the 32m tall statue of Maitreya Buddha, the Buddha that is believed to come in the future, whose construction started in 2006.
The Maitreya Buddha statue was erected to ensure no more war with Pakistan, to protect the village of Diskit, and as a symbol of world peace. The age-worn stone structure stands on the approach road and while the newer extensions are in good shape, the older parts show signs of decay as they remain largely in seclusion.
Bodh Gaya, Bihar
While the Bodh Gaya is not as secluded in location and approach like the other monasteries on this list, it is worth a significant mention as the place where Gautama Buddha received enlightenment in the belief of Buddhism.
The Bodhi tree is renowned worldwide as the exact site where Buddha attained his awakening. Bodh Gaya is associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Komik Lundup Tsemo Gompa, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
Another particularly isolated monastery is the Komik monastery in Himachal Pradesh. This monastery sits at 4,587 meters high, with a gigantic statue of Buddha overlooking the mountains and village of Komik below.
Although the monastery was originally located in Hikkim, it was moved after an earthquake destroyed the original construction. A team of Buddhist scholars revised the entire Tangryud – 87 volumes of the Tantra treatises. It is no wonder that the high priests here are proficient it Tantra.
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Photo credits: Featured photo by Sandeepa Chetan. Pinterest image Mahabodhi Temple by Margie Savage (Beedie). Pinterest image buddhist boy by Staffan Scherz. Ki Monastery by 4ocima. Phuktal monastery photos by Sandeepa Chetan. Diskit Monastery by ccarlstead. Maitreya Buddha statue by cishore™.