Previously, we spoke about the history of spirituality in the hills and how the Dalai Lama established Buddhism in Dharamshala and the surrounding districts. We also wrote about Norbulingka, a beautiful institute and monastery in Dharamsala.In upcoming posts, we’d like to showcase a few more monasteries in Dharamsala that are just a short drive away from Rakkh, our resort in Palampur. As with every monastery or general place of worship, each has its own unique story.
Today, we’d like to talk about the Namgyal Monastery, the genesis of Tibetean Buddhism in India!
The original Namgyal Monastery was founded by the second Dalai Lama in the early 16th century, in Tibet. It was an important center in Tibet and there was peace until the Chinese invasion of 1959, where Tibeteans were granted asylum in India. Among the people who made their home here were the 14th Dalai Lama and around 55 monks from the previous Namgyal Monastery. The Lama eventually commissioned the construction of Namgyal Monastery in Dharamshala and by doing so moved the center of Tibetean Buddhism to India.
Today, the monastery is the Lama’s personal ritual center and also a haven for all the ancient texts, arts and crafts of Namgyal. It continues to be an active center for Buddhism and spiritual learning. It is one of the most prestigeous monasteries in Dharamshala and is constructed inline with the old building, containing many beautiful Indo Tibetean design elements. Students can enroll in the monastery but have to pass a series of entrance examinations and if they pass, undertake a life of studying philosophy and spirituality. Some people at the center spend up to 8 hours in the day studying philosophy.