In the lap of beautiful Kangra district and nestled at the backdrop of snow clad Dhauladhar range, lies the mystic valley of Dharamshala. A centre of attraction for the religious travellers, Dharamshala in English means a ‘spiritual dwelling’. The picturesque hill station is dotted with Buddhist temples, monasteries and nunneries, giving it an aura of peace and harmony and attracting spiritual seekers from all over the world.
Here are five major Buddhist places you must visit in Dharamshala:
McLeod Ganj: An important Buddhist site in the town is the His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s temple, known as Tsuglagkhang or Tsuglag Khang. The statue of Shakyamuni Buddha largely covers the site. The statues of Avalokiteśvara and Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) are also centre of attraction, with prayer wheels off-the-sidewalk, thereby, spreading the message of peace and harmony everywhere.
Namgyal Monastery: The aim of the monastery was to perform ritual prayer ceremonies, let Namgyal monks assist the Dalai Lamas in public religious affairs and act as a meditation and learning centre for Buddhist studies. After His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama arrived in India, the monastery was re-established in Dharamshala to help monks undertake rigorous training, including studying sacred arts, philosophy, debates and meditation. It is the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet.
Tsuglag Khang or the Central Cathedral: The cathedral, named after a 7th century temple in Lhasa, Tibet, is not just a place of worship, but is also used for holding private and public gatherings by His Holiness. The place sees year round religious festivities, with pilgrims converging at the complex for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s blessings.
Tushita Meditation Centre: This is one of the well known places for Vipassana.Located just above McLeod Ganj, it is a centre for the study and practice of Buddhism from the Tibetan Mahayana tradition. The centre runs various courses, focusing on different approaches of Tibetan Buddhism.
Norbulingka Institute: The institute was founded in 1988, with the vision to protect the ancient Tibetan Buddhist art. It is dedicated towards teaching Tibetan art forms, including Tibetan statue making and thangka painting, along with providing training in screen printing, woodcarving, and applique and tailoring, among other crafts.