03 November 2020

On The Path To The Spiritual: Norbulingka Monastery In Dharamsala

As we’ve iterated in our previous posts, Dharamshala has always been a center of spirituality and worship along with being a fine winter destination for those from the plains. There have been links to Buddhism and the Himalayas dating back to 787 AD. 
In the mid 20th century, It was the 14th Dalai Lama that found the hills of Dharamshala an ideal place to establish a center of learning and spirituality for the followers of the Buddha. The Lama then went about establishing centers all around the hills of his own accord once he and his followers took refuge in India.

Today, most of these centers are still very much active places of worship, each with their own special story and place in history. There are a good number of monasteries in Dharamshala. And we’d like to talk about some of them! Most of them may be an hour’s drive or so through the verdant pine forests of the Himachal, some are a bit further out from our resort in Dharamshala.

Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh

Students at work in the Norbulingka Institute. Credits: Norbulingka Institute

This post in particular talks about the famed Norbulingka institute of learning and tibetean arts. It is a center that took inspiration from the Norbulingka Palace in Tibet, the summer residence of the Dalai Lama. The institute was designed to be a center for learning Tibetean art and culture. In their own words, “At Norbulingka it is our aim to retain the artistic knowledge and techniques which were achieved at the pinnacle of Tibetan Buddhist civilization, and to pass these on to new generations of artists who are interested in pursuing their cultural heritage. We do this through a sustainable business model whereby we act as our own patrons, allowing us to provide jobs and training to Tibetans in exile.” 

Norbulingka Institute, much like Rakkh Resort in Dharamshala, leads by example when it comes to self sustenance and local community involvement. It currently empowers over 300 Tibeteans to follow their roots. All income generated from the sales of the artwork and accessories directly go back into the institute where the staff and members then receive special benefits. 

Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh

A handmade Manjushri statue at the Institute

Today, you can visit the studios of the institute where students learn to craft exquisite artworks in Tibetean styles across a broad range of categories. Visitors can also find a moment of solitude in the Japanese-insired gardens within the institute’s complex, and pay homage to the gods at the Deden Tsuglagkhang, a temple whose name translates to “Seat Of Happiness”.

Norbulingka is around 22km from our resort in Dharamshala, making it a perfect afternoon destination where you can immerse yourself in some authentic Tibetean art and culture.

I'm looking for..

Ghamrota Village Post Office Ballah ,Tehsil Palampur, District Kangra, Jiun, Himachal Pradesh 176061