Monasteries in Nepal hold great significance as they embody the country’s spiritual and cultural legacy, offering a unique experience for visitors. Serving as hubs for worship, education, and meditation, these monastic establishments also foster vibrant community life. Their exquisite architecture and stunning natural surroundings make them an essential destination for individuals interested in immersing themselves in Nepal’s diverse cultural heritage. Whether one seeks spiritual enlightenment, cultural immersion, or appreciation for nature’s beauty, exploring Nepal’s numerous monasteries promises an unforgettable and enriching journey.
Monastery exactly is community of men and women often known as monks and nuns. These people have chosen to withdraw their life from society in order to practice and devote them self into Buddhism. Monks and nuns on the other hand performed services to local people as they assisted the poor, take care of the sick people of society practicing herbal medicine rather then chemical infused tablets and liquids. Monastery also offered society a spiritual outlet as place for meditation, peace and serenity.
In Buddhism, instead of statues, monks prayed on behalf of people. It is believed that when prayer flags, decorated with sacred inscriptions, flutter in the wind, they carry positive energy and blessings, spreading their generous influence far and wide. This means may peace be with everyone.
In Buddhism, the concept of a permanent, unchanging soul is indeed absent. Instead, the belief centers on the idea of an endless cycle of rebirth, known as samsara. The ultimate goal in Buddhism is not attaining a heaven, but rather achieving liberation from this cycle of suffering and rebirth. This liberation is referred to as moksha, nirvana, or enlightenment.
Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava, is a highly revered figure in Tibetan Buddhism. He is believed to have attained a state of realization and continues to manifest in various bodies throughout different times and places. This understanding aligns with the idea that enlightened beings transcend the limitations of birth and death. The path to moksha in Buddhism involves letting go of attachments, ego, and the illusions of the materialistic world. By realizing the impermanence and transient nature of all things, one can attain a state of freedom and unity with the interconnectedness of existence. The goal is to break free from the cycle of suffering and merge into an infinite state of oneness with all phenomena.
Nepal has a long history of tradition on monastery, dating back to the 3rd century BC when Buddhist missionaries were sent by Emperor Ashoka to establish monasteries and propagate Buddhism in the region. These monastic institutions gradually evolved into centers of spiritual practice, meditation, and education, playing a crucial role in shaping Nepal’s culture and traditions.
Many of Nepal’s oldest monasteries can be found in the Kathmandu Valley, regions of upper Mustang, regions of Manaslu, Upper & Lower Dolpa which was historically a hub of religious and cultural activities. Most of the monasteries of Himalayan region have Tibetan influence as well. The region of Solukhumbu also holds many monastery in the lower part of the district which grabs less attention due to trail leading to Everest base camp.
The architectural style of Nepalese monasteries is distinct and often reflects the local culture and surroundings. Situated on hilltops or in serene locations, these monastic structures exude a sense of peaceful seclusion. Typically crafted from stone and wood, the buildings showcase intricate carvings and decorative elements, adding to their aesthetic appeal.
The most of the monastery located at upper mustang region contains gold imprinted mantras, prayers and chants. All of them were collected from the caves. The gold imprints helped monks in order to chant prayers during the nights as well. However, such books, scrolls as well as gold imprinted are not given to new monks due to is purity and one must be worthy enough to have it.
One notable feature of monasteries in Nepal is the presence of prayer wheels. These cylindrical wheels contain written prayers and mantras and are spun by visitors as a form of meditation and devotion. Additionally, colorful prayer flags are a common sight fluttering at monasteries. These flags, inscribed with prayers, are believed to transmit positive energy and blessings when carried by the wind, spreading their generous influence throughout the world.
How local people are connected with monastery.
Ever wondered how these monastery operates. They do need constant renovation, lightning, food and what not. You see all the monastery practicing and following purity of Buddhism are located in isolated areas in Nepal. Such monastery are located in place where there is less settlement and in lap of the mountains.
The funding is done by the locals who are living abroad or city area just to preserve the monastery and the faith in monks and nuns. The one who are living in the area donates the food and do some works which helps monastery to operate. If monastery needs light then some donates the land for power house for monastery other people works in order built house, install solar panel, wires and other related works.
Having electricity in remote monastery, helps monks in order to chants the prayer and many other works. The locals do this because their religious belief are directly connected with monastery which result in their lifestyle. They are happy in what they do in monastery, I think that’s the drive for them. We could see many foreigners who come to climb Everest take part in the rituals done by their Sherpa team before climbing mountain. The take part in ceremony held at Tenboche monastery as people on Everest consider the mountains as god.
The places like Ghar Gompa, Luri Gompa, Chele monastery, Thrangu Tashi Choling Monastery Ghiling and many other monastery, all of them were built in 14th, 15th, 10th century. Such monastery not only offer glimpse of rich culture, religion, faith but also provide great environment for meditation and lot of self-realization. The Shey Gompa of Dolpa (one of the highest located monastery above 4000m), mid-western part of Nepal is really something one must see. The monks live here all year despite of harsh winter and attack of elusive snow leopard. The dedication of these monk and helping locals are the reason why the monastery is still standing in the place.