Three Lesser Known Buddhist Sites in North India

Posted On : 15-3-2017
Three Lesser Known Buddhist Sites in North India

Among the many elements that make a Buddhist monastery an oasis of tranquility, including the quiet ambiance and simplicity of the interiors, there is one intangible factor that can be sensed by one and all-the aura of calm.

Gautam Buddha's preaching of detachment and peace radiate from the nooks and crannies of these places of worship for those who belong to the Buddhist faith. No matter how crowded it might be, every Buddhist site in this country can make one feel enveloped by serenity. While Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Sanchi are some of the most frequently visited Buddhist sites, there are others which are a little off the beaten track yet worth visiting for every traveler in India.

Here is the best Buddhist Sites in North India-

Happy Valley Uttarakhand

Mussoorie in Uttarakhand has always been a favored destination for holidaymakers, especially for people in Delhi who find it convenient to drive to this nearby hill station. If you are among those who find it getting a little too crowded at times, do venture out to the upper reaches of the outskirts of the main town. Few people know of a place called Happy Valley, which has a Tibetan population of about 5,000 and has the Shedup Choephelling Temple at the highest point of the valley, atop a cliff. It was the first Tibetan shrine built in India, consecrated by the Dalai Lama.

What adds significance to Happy Valley is that this is the place where Tibetans lived at first when they fled to India from their homeland in 1959. Later, they moved to Dharamsala. The abundance of oak and deodar trees makes the place shady and beautiful. It is clean and free of litter and fragrant marigold bushes surround the shrine. The evenings are soothing, permeated by the chanting of prayers and the resonating blowing of trumpets by the monks.

Sanjauli Himachal Pradesh

The former summer capital of the country, Shimla, in Himachal Pradesh. is another popular hill station that hordes of people visit in all seasons. If summer tourists come to escape the scorching heat of the plains, the winter ones come to enjoy the spectacle and experience of frost and snow. Amidst the tourist influx, there is one quiet place in the suburbs, vet within the boundaries of the town, that not every visitor hears of and goes to-Sanjauli.

The approach to Sanjauli is delightful. There are literally thousands of prayer flags all over the place. Each one has Buddhist prayers and images of the mystic Wind Horse printed on it. The locals believe that when the winds coming down from the upper Shivalik ranges pass through these flags, they carry the blessings in the prayers on the wings of the Wind Horse to the residents of the settlement.

The place was established in 1962 by Lama Jinpa, a prominent Tibetan refugee monk. It was he who built the Jonang Takten Phuntsok Choeling monastery at the top of Sanjauli hill. Besides the calming effect that the monastery has, the place also boasts of some breathtaking views of the mountains and it is blessed with lush surroundings. It is the sort of place nature-lovers will cherish.

Dhankar Himachal Pradesh

Farther north in Himachal Pradesh is Spiti valley at an altitude of 12,500 ft. Truly isolated and nestled in the lap of nature, this cold desert valley is surrounded by high mountain ranges. It has many Buddhist sites that are rated as being among the best. Being close to Tibet, it also has some of the oldest monasteries.

Dhankar monastery is the most ancient, built at the highest point of Spiti valley. It has centuries of history behind it and is believed to have been an important center of Buddhist learning. The new monastery has been constructed at Shichilling village and houses about 150 lamas. The statue of Vairochana or the Meditating Buddha sits at the heart of the shrine.

The monastery also has some ancient murals, thangkas, and Buddhist scriptures. It provides a wonderful experience for those who love to travel to places that are remote and located in forbidding terrain. The Dhankar lake, fed by glacial melt, is nearby. The Kyi and Tabo monasteries are two other well-known shrines in the area which have gained popularity among tourists, both Indian and foreign.