At a grand elevation of 8,000 feet, the Yiga Choeling or old Ghoom Monastery is the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery of Darjeeling. Established in 1850 by Lama Sherab Gyatso, this shrine is part of the Yellow Hat sect known as Gelupka who worship the 'Coming Buddha' or 'Maitreyi Buddha'. A 15-foot high statue of Maitreyi Buddha is seen in the central hall, made entirely of clay brought from Tibet.
Also known as Karmaa Dorjee Cheoling Monastery, this beautiful Buddhist monastery is situated just 2 kilometres away from the Darjeeling Railway Station. One of the oldest and most revered monasteries in West Bengal, the Bhutia Busty is framed by the Kanchenjunga and is known for its Traditional Tibetan architecture with influences from Sikkimese culture. The monastery also features beautifully crafted murals that depict the journey of Buddha and is complete with a vast library.
Located 5 kilometres away from Darjeeling Town, Dali Monastery as it colloquially goes by the name Druk Sangag Choling Monastery. Built according to traditional Tibetan architecture styles in 1971, the monastery perches on a steep hill and serves as home to many monks and disciples who study Buddhism.
Known popularly by the name of Ghum Monastery; Samten Choling Monastery is 7 kilometres away from the town of Darjeeling. The monastery is home to a 26-foot statue of Lord Buddha in all his glory that was recently built and is considered to be the main attraction at the monastery. Samten Choling also houses some of the oldest Buddhist manuscripts and books for everyone who wants to learn about Buddhism.
Established in 1914, the Aloobari Monastery is named Yolmowa Mak Dhog Monastery. Located in the town of Aloobari, 3 kilometres from Darjeeling Town, the monastery is believed to have been built to ward off the first world war. The monastery features centuries-old manuscripts written on Buddhism and beautiful statues of Lord Buddha and Guru Rinpoche, an 8th-century sage.
One of the oldest monasteries associated with the Tamang ethnic group of people which lies straight south of Darjeeling in the town of Mirik, the intricately designed monastery which lies faultlessly on a hill attracts people from all over the world and has one of the best views of the majestic Kanchenjunga in its hold.
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Which of these monasteries in Darjeeling have you visited? Let us know in the comments below!