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Norbulingka Institute, Mcleodganj Overview

Named after the summer residence of The Dalai Lama at Lhasa, the Norbulingka Institute is a popular learning centre that is located 7.5 km from the district of McLeodganj in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. Built in a traditional Tibetan Style, it is set in a beautiful garden of meandering paths, flowing streams, small waterfalls and ponds with the spectacular Dhauladhar Mountains of the Outer Himalayas rising prominently in the background. It is, thus, a must place to visit for people who have a natural hunger for enhancing their knowledge and observe the live culture of Tibet.

The main objective of setting up the Norbulingka Institute is to preserve the Tibetan culture through various paintings, statues and sculptures, and provide employment and care to qualified Tibetan refugees. The environment of the institute is so soothing that a look at the beautiful centre and its surroundings bring peace to the minds of people and the serene environment becomes one of the major reasons to explore this place. Many people come from different parts of the world to visit the Norbulingka Institute and get a glimpse of the natural beauty and are spellbound by its beauty.

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Architecture of Norbulingka Institute

Temple: The temple of Norbulingka, popularly known as Deken Tsuklagkhang, is a magnificent example of the Tibetan religious architecture and displays some of the finest work by Norbulingka artists. It is a perfect place for prayer and meditation. The walls of the temple are adorned with thangka frescos which depict the deeds of Lord Buddha, the fourteen Dalai Lama and other great Buddhist masters. The centrepiece of the temple is 14 feet gilded statue of Lord Buddha, which is the largest of its kind, lovingly crafted by the Norbulingka artists from hand-hammered copper sheets.

Losel Doll Museum: The Losel Doll Museum has a collection of 150 dolls who are dressed in traditional costumes from various regions in Tibet. The dolls in the museum were created by a group of artist monks as a project to support the monastery. The costumes are made of the finest materials which depict the richness and diversity of life on the Tibetan Plateau.

Guided Tour at Norbulingka Institute

At the entrance of the institute, a person is asked to pay a small fee of INR 50 for locals and INR 110 for tourists which go towards maintenance of the grounds. From there, one can request a free guided tour of Norbulingka Institute and the guide will show all the sections of the place. A person has the flexibility to take a tour all by himself/herself. During the tour, a person will observe various Tibetan artisans and their apprentices as they practise the art of sculpture making, Thangka painting and other decorative arts of woodwork, tailoring and weaving.

Hummingbird Cafe

Set amidst the beautiful gardens of Norbulingka, it is a cafe that is open from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM every day. It serves various cuisines ranging from pizza to smoothies which are delicious and healthy. Groups can reserve the private dining area which looks out over the gardens in Norbulingka. The area is surrounded by paintings depicting the traditional Tibetan folkstyle, making it a peaceful place to have snacks. The spacious conference hall of the cafe can be booked for gatherings and conventions and the cafe provides buffets for groups of 200 people.

How to Reach Norbulingka Institute

The easiest way to reach Norbulingka is by bus, available from Dharamshala bus stand. Take a Palampur-bound bus from the bus stand and get off at Sacred Heart School, Sidhpur. From there, it will take 1 km to walk uphill. Taxis are also available in that region.

Norbulingka Shop

Norbulingka Institute’s flagship shop offers various products that are created in the workshop of the institute itself. From Thangkas to carved furniture and elegant clothing, everything is found. The interior of the shop reminds people of the tradition of Tibet since all the items in the shop are arranged in a systematic manner and preserve the traditional art of making the products in its pristine form. The Institute also has its own website where shopping can be done. Various items are found which are original and are made with excellent quality depicting the traditional style of Tibetan culture.

Workshops and Experiences

Norbulingka Institute offers customised workshops for individuals and groups to learn something new in Tibetan Arts. Guests are welcome to join the institute anytime and stay as long as they want to. Under the supervision of a master, the guests learn interesting techniques like Thangka which involves representing scriptures of deities in a traditional Tibetan form. Along with that people also learn Wood Painting and Wood Carving of different symbols of Buddhism. The technique of Applique is also taught, which involves wrapping a silk thread around a cord to make a bold outline of a fabric, which is then assembled into different pieces.

In addition to that, the institute also conducts one day tour for people to witness the lesser known facts of Kangra Valley. The institute provides a guide who shows different parts of Kangra Valley and enlighten the guests about the sacred legends of the valley and its hidden secrets along with the monastic life beyond the Himalaya.

Accommodation at Norbulingka Institute

Accommodation is provided by Norbulingka Institute in 3 different houses/hotels that are located within its premises. They are Norling House, Chonor House and Serkong House. All the facilities like air conditioning, laundry services and other services are given by the houses along with breakfast, lunch and dinner. In order to book the hotels, one has to visit the official website of the Norbulingka Institute and book the accommodations directly.


As a treasured park, Norbulingka Institute is an ideal place to take photographs of the natural scenery. However, for the interior of the Buddhist halls and premises, one may be asked permission for this. If permission is given for taking photographs inside the hall, avoid keeping the flashlight on while taking photographs of the paintings and statues.

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