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Buddhist Monasteries In India That Are Not In The Himalayas

The word Monastery conjures in the mind revered destinations in Tibet or the Himalayan region. However, the roots of Buddhism are spread all over India and these notable, ancient and historically rich monasteries in the South of India make worthy tourist spots.

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So, here is a list of monasteries away from the Himalayas and Tibet that will pique the interest of people wanting to know more about the Buddhist history.

Namdroling Monastery, Karnataka

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Namdroling Monastery is one of the most historically rich monasteries in South India. Its spiritual ambiance prompts tourists from all over the world. The 40ft golden buddha statue is one of the main attractions of this monastery.

One can find paintings of characters reflecting Tibetan Buddhist mythology. The main altar will find its place in your album as it is decorated with incense sticks, candles and flowers.

How to reach: If you are traveling from within Karnataka, then take a local bus to Bylakuppe from Hassan. If someone is flying down, they have to come to Kannaur Airport. Once in Kannaur, tourists will have an option of going via bus or driving down a hired car. If you do not wish to shell out money for flight tickets then book a train ticket to Krishnarajanagar and take a bus or taxi to the monastery.

Nalanda Monastery, Bihar

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The ruins of this Buddhist Monastery is a place to be for all historical enthusiasts. People will come across evidence of multiple constructions of new buildings being built atop ruins of old ones.

Sariputta Stupa towers and stairs inside it are decorated with panels of Gupta-era art depicting stucco figures of Buddha and Bodhisattvas. People can also visit the Black Buddha temple that houses an ancient Buddha sculpture in Bhumisparha mudra.

How to reach: The nearest airport is 89 km away in Patna. The airport is connected by major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata etc. The closest railway station is Rajgir (12km) but the most convenient one is located in Gaya (95 km). There are no taxis available in Nalanda, tongas and cycle rickshaws are the only modes of transport.

Bavikonda Monastery, Andhra Pradesh

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The ancient Bavikonda Buddhist Monastery refers to the numerous wells found all around the complex. People will find stupas located around hills in the area. Numerous galleries, shrines, temples can also be found around the Monastery complex.

It also houses the Dagoba stupa associated with the remains of Lord Buddha. There is one popular cave carved out of a rock, which contains a large statue of Buddha.

How to reach: Take a flight to Vishakhapatnam Airport and rent a cab to embark on an hour’s journey. The railway station in Visakhapatnam is connected to all cities and towns in close proximity. You can book a cab and go to Bavikonda. The ancient monastery is well connected by road and anyone can go there via the National highway.

Thotlakonda Ancient Buddhist Monastery, Andhra Pradesh

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This ancient Buddhist Complex derives its name from Telugu and refers to the numerous rock-cut cisterns found chopped into the bedrock of the hillock. One can still see the main stupa, kitchen, meditation chambers and prayer halls that were used by Buddhist monks back in the day.

There is also a water tank located to the south of the complex that served as a source of water for all those living there.

How to reach: Take a flight to Vishakhapatnam Airport and rent a cab. The railway station in Visakhapatnam is connected to all cities and towns in close proximity. You can book a cab and go to Thotlakonda. The ancient monastery is well connected by road and can be reached by using the Thotlakonda Breach road which goes towards Bhimli.

Curated by Ruchit Rastogi