The beautiful country of Nepal, situated between the stunning Indian jungles and the mesmerizing Himalaya Mountains, has seen a significant rush of tourists ever since it opened its borders. It has a mix of cultural heritage, historical attractions, untamed natural beauty, and monasteries, making it a popular destination among hikers, history enthusiasts, pilgrims, and those seeking meditation retreats. The country’s strong ties with Buddhism and Hinduism is evident in its many abbeys, temples, and shrines. Regardless of whether you are looking for a place for short-term or long-term meditation retreats or you want to learn new styles and traditions, and more, this place has it all. Check out these must-visit monasteries in Nepal.
1. Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu
Set in the outskirts of Kathmandu on a hill is the serene Tibetan Buddhist monastery, which is home to over 300 monks, teachers, workers, and lamas. The monks here, which are between the ages of 7 and 60, devote their entire lives to practicing and learning the insights of Buddha Shakyamuni. If you are interested in Tibetan Buddhism, you can spend some days among the monks, or you can register for one of their courses, which can last for up to three months. Alternatively, you can enjoy a quiet day, recollecting, and enjoying the vistas of the landscape and the Himalayan mountain range.
Address: Kathmandu 44600, Nepal
Website: Kopan Monastery
2. Benchen Monastery, Kathmandu
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Gain insights on Tibetan Buddhism and meditate with well-known teachers and monks at Benchen Monastery. It is located in Kathmandu, close to Swayambhu Stupa, and run by two learned and famous Buddhist monks - Ven. Tenga Rinpoche and Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche. They are considered masters of Tibetan Buddhism meditation and have shared their knowledge around Asia and Europe. The grounds of the monastery features a meditation spot, a free community medical center, a primary school, and a monastic school. Aside from being a religious inspiration, the monastery also supports the community through free medical aid and employment.
Address: Chauni Hospital Marg, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal
Website: Benchen Monastery
3. Tharlam Monastery, Kathmandu
You may have gone through numerous articles about the typical life of a monk. But if you wish to experience it physically, then Tharlam Monastery, also set in Kathmandu, is your ideal destination. This abbey of the Sakya sect provides you with well-equipped, clean rooms, steps away from all the activities of the monks. You will be greeted every morning by the sounds of the praying monks and you can also join them in a puja or seat and observe them on one of the pews. Initially, the monastery was constructed in Eastern Tibet in 1436 but later moved to Dezhung Rinpoche in Kathmandu in 1981, after it was demolished by the Chinese communists in 1981. Aside from the main building, it has 40 rooms dedicated to retreat and meditation.
Address: Kathmandu 44602, Nepal
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4. Amitabha Monastery, Nagarjun
Bask in the colorful surroundings, as well as the beautiful Nepali sunrise and sunset in this magnificent monastery, located on the heights of Druk Amitabha Mountain in Kathmandu valley. It is home to the renowned kung-fu nuns and has a center for humanitarian causes and spiritual practices. The abbey features a beautiful vegetable garden, a home for animals salvaged from butchering, a medical clinic, an administrative office, a library, and a 2,000-seat capacity hall. The surroundings of this religious house feature many serene hiking trails and a visit is an opportunity for you to gain insights into the disciplined lives and sacrifices of these extraordinary individuals.
Address: Nagarjun 44609, Nepal
5. Pranidhipurna Mahavihar, Chandragiri
Ever heard of Theravada Buddhism? It all started in the 1940s in this abbey, situated in the western part of Kathmandu. Also known as Balambu Bihar, the Pranidhipurna Mahavihar is managed by the abbot of Bihar and is home to nuns and monks. The monastery is a significant hub of the Buddhist study and it organizes many humanitarian services, which supports the community in many ways. They have a home for seniors and organize life cycle events for the young and free health camps. You can also join in the dharma classes and learn to meditate the Theravada Buddhist way.
Address: Chandragiri 44600, Nepal
Website: Pranidhipurna Mahavihar
6. Namobuddha Monastery, Simalchaur Syampati
Enjoy marveling at the beautiful scenery, spending a quiet time, and getting an up-close look at some important monuments of Buddha at Namobuddha Monastery. It is one of the most visited pilgrim’s spots in the country and it is set 2 miles (42 kilometers) to the east of Kathmandu. It is more popular among the Tibetan Buddhists and you can watch the chanting nuns every morning. The soaring vistas of the millions of prayer flags spread out on the surrounding mountains are mesmerizing. Also, climb up the main building’s staircase to the rooftop to see the Gold Buddha Shrine, the 16 Arhats Shrines, and the Crowned Buddha Shrine.
Address: Namobuddha Rd, Simalchaur Syampati 45200, Nepal
Website: Namobuddha Monastery
7. Tergar Osel Ling Monastery, Nagarjun
Tergar Osel Ling Monastery, home to over 100 Himalayan monks, who live to learn the Buddhist philosophical inquiry and meditation, is a perfect place to connect with the spiritual. This abbey, which is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, is set in a tranquil spot on the outskirts of Kathmandu. It was established in Nepal by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, and currently, it is managed by his two sons - Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and Tsoknyi Rinpoche. While Yongey is focused on educating Tibetans in the monastic college he founded in 2010, Tsoknyi concentrates his efforts on non-Tibetans.
Tergar Osel Ling Monastery
Address: Nagarjun 44600, Nepal
Website: Tergar Osel Ling Monastery
Become a better you
Aside from connecting with the spiritual, a visit to these abbeys is an eye-opener to some deeply religious and traditional practices to make you a better you. Also, many of these monasteries to visit in Nepal are set among lush landscapes and mountains, offering greater tranquility, experience, and focus.
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