On a trip to the Northeast, the spiritual-minded person would find himself heading to Arunachal Pradesh. The state is in the extreme Northeastern part. Arunachal Pradesh shares closeness in terms of geography with Tibet, and Bhutan and hence, the cultural influence is quite evident.
The imposing Himalayan ranges the impressively ornamental Buddhist monasteries, the Buddhist monks, and the prayer flags at every bend and turn of the roads and highways here, are quite common sights in Arunachal Pradesh. Buddhism is one of the most important religions practised here and possessing two branches. The areas near Tibet border like West Kameng and Tawang and few other remote corners practice Tibetan Buddhism and the people living in the east near the Indo-Burmese border practice the Theravada Buddism.
Buddhism – Its Rise and Popularity:
Today, a person who has read about Buddhism or has an inclination towards it would know that Arunachal Pradesh is a hub for several ancient and highly revered monasteries.
Top monasteries in Arunachal Pradesh:
Samten Yongcha Monastery, Mechuka
Older than the Tawang monastery is the Samten Yongcha Monastery in a place called Mechuka. The grand looking monastery was built 400 years ago. It has statues and paintings of Guru Padmasambhava and it has murals that any visitor shall admire. The monastery is located on top of a hill and has an amazing view of the valley of Mechuka and the river of Yargyap Chu ahead of it. The monastery is very old and of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism.
Tawang Monastery, Tawang
Tawang Monastery or Galden Namgyal Lhatse holds the prestige of being the largest monastery in the country. It is also the second largest in the world and this is indeed a reason for everyone to make a trip to Tawang. The fifth Dalai Lama had his divine wishes and even contributed in the construction of this beautiful monastery. Merak Lama Lodre Gyamtso had established the monastery in 1860-1861 AD. The gorgeous architecture and the structure of this vast monastery is visible from a distance. The monastery can house around 700 monks. The 26-feet high statue of Buddha is the largest and is in the Dukhang or the Assembly hall, which also has Thankas and several decorations all over the walls. The entrance gate or the Kakaling is grand with plenty of wall paintings and murals.
One more monastery that shall mesmerize any visitor travelling to Arunachal Pradesh is that of Bomdila. This monastery is fairly new, built in 1965. The monastery has monks from the West Kameng region of Arunachal Pradesh. One shall find similarity in the design of architecture with the Tsona Gontse monastery of Tibet. The monastery has three Gompas comprising of prayer hall, Blue Medicine Buddha, and assembly hall.
Urgelling Gompa, Tawang:
Another monastery that you must not forget to visit is the Urgelling Monastery. It is in the south of Tawang, and was built in the fifteenth century. However, unfortunately, in the 16th century, vandals had attacked and stolen many things from there. Now, the monastery has Buddhist monks who lead a serene life there.
Golden Pagoda, Namsai:
The Golden Pagoda at Thengapani in the Namsai district of Arunachal Pradesh is one of the most revered places here. There are 12 sub-domes and the main dome is the biggest one in the center. The gold painted Pagoda has had the prestige of getting visits from monks across the world. The monks reside in their quarters here and they conduct regular talks and chants all year round. The main deity in the Pagoda, the Buddha is one of the most beautiful ones you shall ever come across.
Thupten Gatsal Ling Gompa, Itanagar:
In the capital city of Itanagar is the Thupten Gatsal Ling Gompa monastery. The monastery is a must-visit for the simplistic and yet very traditional design and architecture. The gardens and the serenity of the place is what gives the place a charm like no other.
Thegtse Sang-ngag Choekhorling Monastery:
This is a very significant monastery, located near Tawang and it follows the Nyingma sect of Buddhism. As early as the 1400’s, the monastery came about. The monks here do not have to remain celibate all their life.
Life of Buddhists in Arunachal:
In spite of the differences, all the Buddhist monasteries in Arunachal Pradesh are here true to the actual flavor. The people here send their children to study in these Buddhist monasteries.
History has it that Lord Buddha had preached Buddhism here and since then people follow it to the core.
A student of Buddhism should not miss his trip to Arunachal Pradesh and especially to the monasteries here. Contact us to go on tours across these monasteries. Check out our package tours across the monasteries in Arunachal Pradesh that shall help in revealing the spiritualism surrounding Buddhism for you.