Lumbini is of course where it all began, the birth of a great new religion, Buddhism, with the birth of Siddhartha Gautam, who later on in life went on to gain nirvana and become the Buddha, or the Enlightened One. Thus, Lumbini is the primary pilgrimage site for the millions of Buddhists all around the world. At the same time, there are many monasteries (viihars and mahavihara), and stupas throughout Nepal that are also important places of pilgrimage for Buddhist devotees. When choosing a meditation retreat to attend in Nepal, it’s a good idea to look into whether they cater to advanced practitioners or those with a casual interest in meditation. While you may hear about meditation retreats at monasteries all over the country, many of these are based on long-term goals (think, three years-plus) for monks in training and aren’t open to beginners.
Located on the picturesque Kopan Hills (20 minutes drive from the city centre) on the fringes of Kathmandu, Kopan Monastery is a stunning Tibetan Buddhist Monastery established between the late 1960s and early 1970s by the founders of the Foundation of the Preservation of the Mahayana (FPMT). It is a well-known tourist attraction and draws people who are interested in learning Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism. One can choose to enrol in a short-term (7 days) course to get a gist of this ancient way of living. The facilities are humble but ensure that everyone leaves feeling calm and composed.
Visitors may choose to explore the picturesque and tranquil monastery for a few hours, do a retreat or join one of the courses. The monastery campus is open for all. However, a general code of conduct needs to be maintained to avoid disturbing the students and the monks. They have a cafe where tourists can have a simple and wholesome vegetarian meal before taking a nice long stroll in the monastery gardens. Everyone is welcome to witness the peace even if it is just for an hour.
White Monastery or Seto Gomba, also known as Amitabha Monastery, is a Buddhist Monastery in Nepal, offering a mix of religious importance and natural anesthetic. The vivid terrain and the lush green landscape of the surrounding make the sunset and sunrise here, a treat to watch. Visitors can observe the whole of the Kathmandu Valley from this place. The soothing atmosphere draws most travellers wanting to soak up some tranquillity after exploring the bustling city of Kathmandu.
The Thrangu Tashi Yangtse monastery is a tibetan monastery located in the Tamang village of the Namobuddha municipality. The monastery lies at the top of the hill of the village. It is the perfect getaway for the relaxation and peace of the mind and soul. It is the perfect place for those who are seeking inner peace and relaxation. The music played at the monastery really soothes the mind and soul giving the pleasure feeling. As it lies on the top of the hill we can get the glimpse of the beautiful mountain range.
According to the old folk tales, Prince Mahastwo saw a tigress with her cubs who was fighting for survival due to hunger. The prince quickly realizes that the cub’s lives depend upon the tigress so he cut his body to present to the tigress. The tigress accepted the sacrifice of the prince leaving his bones on the hill. The bones were brought back in the village and buried in the tomb which is the actual stupa of Namobuddha. The monastery was officially opened to the public on December 5, 2008.
Lot of Nepalese and tourists visit Thrangu Tashi monastery to clear their mind and soul. The monastery is at the lap of the beauty of nature. The best time to visit the monastery is in the spring season as the trees and flowers have bloomed and we can get the perfect glimpse of the mountains and hills. It is also the best hiking spot for those who are fond of adventures and exercise. The monastery is usually crowded on the occasion of Buddha Purnima and Kartik Purnima. During these days many worshippers are here to offer their prayers. It is also the home for the more than 250 monks. They are here to prepare their mind for meditation and inner peace.
A part of the Nyingma monasteries, Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling was founded by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in Nepal after it was destroyed in Tibet in the 1950s. Although some parts of the monastery were destroyed in the devastating 2015 earthquake, restoration work is ongoing. Shechen houses over 150 statues, and one of the largest Tibetan libraries, apart from being home to more than 500 monks and students.
Khawaling Monastery was founded by Jigme Dorje Rinpoche. Jigme Dorje Rinpoche is also a spiritual heir of Yogi Master Choying Rinpoche. It was inaugurated in 2005. This institutional monastery is aimed to preserve, uphold, and disseminate the general Buddhist teachings, in particular the tradition of Nyingmapa, it is also known as one of four major sects of Vajrayana Buddhism. The treasure teachings of H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche are taught at this Monastery. The monastery includes training school and elementary school. Besides offering religious education in basic and advanced courses, the monastery provides free food, clothing and medical expenses for all the Monks.
Chhairo Gompa is situated in the upper Mustang region of Nepal. It was the first monastery of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism in Mustang region. It was established in the 16th century. The name Chhairo Monastery and the village is believed to have originated from Chhahara. Chhahara is the Nepali translation of waterfalls. The founder of this monastery Chhawang Thinlen is believed to have been a Thank resident and migrated from Kyirong Monastery. Some people also believe that Chhawang Thinlen was the younger of two brothers and migrated to Chhairo from Dhakartas Pandrasaya Khola, which is situated in Rasuwa district. The village of mustang and the Gompa are located in the ancient salt trade route between Nepal and Tibet. The shrine of Padmasambhava is also established at Chhairo Gompa. This monastery has complexes and rooms for monks, visitors, pilgrims and their horses as well.
Pranidhipurna Mahavihar is a Theravada Buddhist Monastery. The monastery is in Balambu, Kathmandu. It is also considered to be the key base of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal in the decade of 1940s. It is located around 8 Km west from the central part of Kathmandu. This monastery is also known as Balambu Bihar. Balambu Bihar contains a number of resident monks and nuns and is run by the abbot of Bihar. This place is also an important center of Buddhist study. The religious services and retreat, dharma classes and free health camps are organized at Pranidhipurna Mahavihar. It also organizes life cycle ceremonies for boys and girls and operates a home for senior citizens as well.
Tengboche monastery is the popular name among the trekkers in Nepal. This monastery of Nepal is also known as Dawa Choling Gompa. Tengboche is one of the popular monasteries situated in Khumbu region of Nepal. It is amidst the Sagarmatha National Park, and offers the stunning views of renowned Himalayas Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam and Thamserku. This is the sacred site of Guru Rinpoche, who is also a crucial part of Tibetan Buddhism. It also holds major religious and cultural significance. People celebrate the colorful Mani Rimdu Festival in this monastery, which falls in October. Mani Rimdu festival is the culmination of Buddhist celebration with religious gatherings, songs, dances, and enchantments of legends.
This monastery is located in the southwest corner of the Kathmandu valley, nearby Pharping. This monastery is also close to the Asura Cave. Asura Cave is believed to be the place where Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche meditated and achieved the highest realization. This monastery is a home to almost 200 Monks, who stay and study here and practice Buddhism. Other people can also indulge themselves at this place by paying a certain amount to understand the lifestyle of Monks, and to meditate and study Buddhism.
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