The Most Famous Buddhist Monasteries in India

Updated on Dec 20, 2023 | Indian e-Visa

From being the birthplace of Buddhism thousands of years ago to now being home to many of the world's largest Tibetan settlements, India has a set of many outstanding Buddhist monasteries which you would surely want to visit on a trip to the country.

If you ever wondered that a trip to India would be solely about temples and palaces, then you are missing out a very significant factor which the country is known for. Given their magnificent architecture which are treasure houses of Buddhist knowledge and absolute serenity, these Buddhist monasteries indeed act as an oasis for spiritual awakening.

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Hemis Monastery, Ladakh

Located on the banks of the Indus River, Hemis monastery is considered as India’s most ethnically loaded Buddhist site in the country. 

Just forty five kilometres from the city of Leh, the main attraction of the monastery is its annual Hemis festival held every year in the month of June. 

June is not only the best time to visit Ladakh, but if you plan to travel to Ladakh during this season you would be welcomed to this part of the country with rich Buddhist customs and festivals.

Diskit Monastery, Ladakh

In Ladakh, a region endowed with Buddhist culture, Diskit monastery is famous for being the largest and the oldest monastery in Ladakh’s Nubra valley. 

The Diskit region is home to several ancient monasteries, with this 14th century monastery belonging to the Tibetan sect of Buddhism . 

Seated at more than ten thousand feet above sea level, the 108 feet tall statue of Maitreya Buddha, also known as the ‘Future Buddha’ in the Buddhist scriptures, is the one image that stands apart amidst the simply gorgeous scenery of this cold desert valley.

Tabo Monastery, Himachal Pradesh

With collections of priceless scroll paintings, walls retelling the stories from ancient scriptures and the oldest continuously operating monastery within the Himalayas, Tabo Gompa is one of the great ancient heritage places in India. 

Situated in the enchanting Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh, the views, culture, mysteries and the spiritual vibrance of this place would surely become your most cherished memory.

Nako Monastery, Himachal Pradesh

Set in the beautiful village of Spiti Valley district of Himachal Pradesh, this 11th century monastery is believed to have been founded by the ancient translator Lochen Rinchen Zangpo. 

Nako Monastery is one of the most visited Buddhist places in Himachal Pradesh, a state that is also the home of the Tibetan government in exile in the Indian city Dharamshala, also popularly known as ‘Little Lhasa’. 

The monastery is known for being situated in the Hangrang valley bordering Tibet. Nako as a small Buddhist village seems even more enriched given its natural charm and the tranquil Nako Lake.

Key Gompa, Himachal Pradesh

Located at more than 4000 meters above sea level, the striking location of Key monastery is its most recognised feature. At the lap of the mesmerising Spiti Valley, the calm of this monastery amidst the deserted Himalayas would become a memory that would resonate with you forever. 

The 11th century monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, with the walls of the ancient structure adorned with painting and architecture reflecting the Chinese cultural influence from the time. 

This scenic site is also the largest monastery in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh.

Thiksey Monastery, Ladakh

Amidst the barren beauty of Ladakh’s mountains, Thiksey monastery acts as an oasis of purity. 

Known to be the largest monastery in the central Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, the soothing ambience, Himalayan views, clear skies and the sound of the majestic Indus River is what makes this place truly sacred. 

Renowned for its location as well as architecture resembling the fort building style in Tibetan culture, the monastery is home to more than 200 monks and nuns, where accommodation within the monastery’s complex could be the best way to gain a truly different experience.

Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh

The Tibetan name for this monastery translates as ‘celestial paradise in a clear sky’, and unlike any other Buddhist monastery this gompa in the state of Arunachal Pradesh is known for being one of biggest and oldest monasteries in all of Asia. 

Known in the native language as Galden Namgey Lhatse, Tawang monastery belongs to the Gelug sect of Vajrayana Buddhism. 

The surreal aura of this place accompanied by the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains make this monastery truly resembling paradise. 

Bordering the Chinese and the Bhutanese border, this monastery also acts as a treasure house of many ancient Buddhist scriptures.

The Mahabodhi Temple, Bihar

The Mahabodhi Temple The Mahabodhi Temple

Known as the site where Gautama Buddha is known to have received enlightenment, the Mahabodhi Temple is revered as one of the most sacred places in Buddhism. 

Also, one of India’s ancient UNESCO world heritage sites, the temple is richly laden with craftwork displaying more than 2500 years old Buddhist culture and practices in the country. 

The magnificent temple complex and the peace reflecting from the sacred Bodhi Tree attract thousands of people from all over the world to this part of India.

Phugtal Monastery, Ladakh

Often known as one of the most secluded monasteries in the world, Phuktal Gompa is in a remote valley of the Zanskar mountains in the state of Ladakh. 

So distant is the location of this monastery that the supplies must be transported through the frozen Zanskar river in the winter months. 

Hiding in deep valleys within the mountains, the life of the monks and people from the neighbouring village of Lungnak village would amaze you, making travelling this far in the world truly worth it.

Lamayuru Monastery, Ladakh

Also known as the Yuru monastery, this place is also called the Moon Land given the lunar landscape of the region. 

At a height of more than 3000 meters, the monastery is the largest and the oldest Buddhist gompa in the state of Ladakh. 

To witness the spirit of Buddhist culture of this place you can choose to visit the area during the annual masked dance festival held twice during the year.

Namdroling Monastery, Karnataka

Namdroling Monastery Namdroling Monastery

Located in the beautiful Coorg district of Karnataka, this is one of the few monasteries situated in South India. 

The Namdroling Nyingmapa Gompa is also the largest Tibetan Buddhist centre of Nyingma lineage all over the world. 

Also known as the Golden Temple, this place located a few kilometers from the tranquil town of Coorg, is renowned for Bylakuppe, the second largest Tibetan settlement in the world after Dharamshala.

Mindrolling Monastery, Dehradun

Built in the year 1965, this beautiful monastery is in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. 

Belonging to the Nyingma school of Buddhism, the vast complex of the monastery houses various temples, stupas and learning facilities. 

One of the most famous monasteries in the city of Dehradun, numerous festivals and activities are organised here for public participation. Also known as the Dehradun Buddha Temple, the great architecture of this place is one of the must-see attractions on a visit to this Indian state.

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