Temples & monasteries
TEMPLES AND MONASTERIES | Expression of Hindu and Buddhist cultures abound in Himachal Pradesh. A number of temples and monasteries, and some active teaching centers, are good destinations for a days outing from The Mirage.
Tashijong Monastery (15 kms) - A Tibetan monastery and colony, Tashijong is a full community rather than just a monastery, populated by Tibetan refugee-immigrants, monks & nuns, one of several such communities spread along the southern slopes of the Dhauladhar Ranges.
Apart from its religious significance, there is an excellent craft emporium where one can get some beautiful Tibetan handi-crafts. From Tashijong there are lovely views of the Kangra Valley and near by surroundings. Its serene and tranquil ambiance helps one forget all the hustle and bustle of day to day life going on down in the valley .
Baijnath Temple (25kms) - Dedicated to Lord Shiva, and his incarnation as Lord of Physicians, this is one of the oldest Hindu Temples in northern India. Set in quiet gardens in this bustling market town, it is a magnet for pilgrims & passing travellers. It is likely one of the most striking monuments in Kangra Valley with a spire in the centre of a squared floor and a mandapa hall outside with a pyramidal roof.
Sharada inscriptions in Sankrit on stone slabs inside the Baijnath Temple reveal the name of the ancient town to which this complex belongs – Kiragrama. It is believed that the city was the capital of the Kirat Kings of Kangra. The Sanskrit verses written inside the mandir also suggest that the temple was built based on contributions by the city's merchants, who laid its foundations around 1204 AD.
Legend has it that this is the temple where Ravana worshipped Shiva to gain immortality.
Sherabling Monastery (30 kms) - Originally located in Kham, Eastern Tibet, the Sherab Ling Monastery has been rebuild near the town of Bir, according to principles of the ancient science of geomancy. Inside the monastery there is a magnificent 42 ft high golden statue of the Maitreya Buddha, surrounded by 10,000 9 inch high golden Buddhas.
It provides a complete range of facilities for monks to study and practice. The monastery has shrine halls, a monastic college, school, library, museum, exhibition hall and dispensary. Accommodations are available in rooms and apartments for 500 monks. There are full retreat facilities for monks, nuns and lay people.
The monastic college offers a seven year long basic education program. Debates are organized regularly for the students. The exhibition hall displays photographic exhibits, art and other presentations that show the life at the monastery and spirituality and works of the Tai Situpa, one of the main disciples of Buddha. The craft center intends to teach traditional Tibetan arts, religious paintings, metal-work, wood carvings, sculpting and tailoring.
Norbulingka Institute, Dharamshala (40 kms) - Norbulingka was established to preserve and teach the ancient Tibetan arts & crafts. The shady paths, wooden bridges, small streams with tiny water falls make this place a peaceful haven, with the spectacular Dhualadhar mountains of the outer Himalayas looming in the background. The nunnery close to the institute is a place where women are taught the advanced levels of Buddhist philosophy.
Here in the craft schools one can observe the creation of colorful Thangkas (painted or embroidered wall hangings), wood carvings, statues, metalware, furniture, and traditional garments. The arts are passed on under the supervision of master artists such as Temba Chopel, master painter, and Pemba Dorje, master statue maker, and Choe Phuntsok master wood carver, who learned their crafts in Tibet.
Bir, Dirru Sakya Monastery - The centre belongs to the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism which was founded in 1073 by the great Tibetan Master Khon Konchok Gyalpo. The Sakya lineage has been a stable force that has greatly enhanced and preserved, in a pure form, the teachings of the Buddha. The head of their lineage is His Holiness the 41st Sakya Trizin, a great Spiritual Master. His Eminences Gyalsay Rinpoche and Dungyud Rinpoche are the joint Spiritual Heads of Sakya Tharpa Ling.
Brijeshwari Temple ( also known as Kangra Temple, 40 kms) - A temple which is known for its legendary wealth was subject to successive invasions from the north. History reveals that Mohammed of Ghazni had departed from here with a king’s ransom in gold, silver and jewels in 1009.Destroyed completely in 1905 by an earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1920. It continues to be a profoundly busy place of pilgrimage and for tourists. Colourful stalls outside the temple tend to the pilgrim's needs and religious requirements.
Chamunda Mata Temple (30kms) - In the village of Dadh is the famous Temple dedicated to the Goddess Chamunda Devi, who is believed to have the boon to grant the desires of those who worship her. Behind the temple is a cave where a natural stone 'Lingam' is worshipped as manifestation of Lord Shiva.
Jwalamukhi Mata Temple (65 kms) - A popular center of pilgrimage for several centuries the temple of Jwalamukhi is considered among most sacred in northern India. There is no idol in this picturesquely located temple and the eternal flame is considered a manifestation of the Goddess. Recognised as one of the 51 Shaktipeeths of India, Jwalamukhi Devi Temple, tended by the followers of Goraknath, is set against a cliff. The picturesque temple, built against a wooded spur, in the Indo-Sikh style, has a dome that was gilded by a Mughal Emperor.
Chintpurni Temple (140 kms) - Is a popular temple that has a large following. The goddess Chintpurni is represented by a stone idol. A fair is held here around August and it lasts for around 10 days. This place is a must while visiting Himachal Pradesh for pilgrims and tourists alike.