A sense of calm and tranquillity pervades as one enters the Mindrolling Monastery Dehradun in the mornings. The only noise that is heard is that of the monkeys jumping and playing on the roofs. The monks in red robes go about their chores silently without any pandemonium. The premises is spic and span, devoid of the sea of people that is synonymous with McLeodganj. I am instantly at ease. A glimpse of the Mindrolling Monastery seems like the perfect antidote to the ever chaotic world outside!
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Mindrolling Monastery Dehradun
A trip to Dehradun is definitely incomplete without a visit to the largest Buddhist monastery in India – the Mindrolling Monastery.
Locally, the Mindrolling Monastery in Dehradun is also known as the Tibetan Temple or simply as Buddha temple. Its close proximity to the Dehradun Railway Station and the Airforce Selection Board makes it a favourite destination for tourists and visitors.
The road leading to the monastery is narrow, with shops and cafes on either side churning out steaming hot momos, beverages and other delicacies. But then, it is easy to get lost meandering in the lanes if on your own. So keep an eye and do ask for guidance. Oh, by the way! We did miss a lane and a bend, but, then found our way back.
I hope this map that I happened to click on the Monastery complex, proves handy to the readers!
The Mindrolling Monastery Dehradun complex comprises of the stupa, monastery, the monks’ living quarters and other structures as mentioned in the map. This should give us a fair idea of what all to see on a visit to the Mindrolling Monastery Dehradun.
Why the name ‘Mindrolling’?
My first thoughts upon hearing the name ‘Mindrolling Monastery’ was- ‘Why the name mindrolling for a monastery?’
Monasteries are supposedly places to train the minds of monks to be calm, learn and practice the teachings of Buddha and develop an attitude of Zen! So, why should the mind be rolling that too in a monastery??!!
I got my answer when I researched a little more on this and realized that I had been pronouncing the name wrong, all along! The actual pronunciation is ‘Mìn-drolling’.
The Tibetan meaning of Min-drolling is ‘place of perfect emancipation’.
MindRolling Monastery – A brief history
MindRolling Monastery confirms to the Nyingma school which is supposedly the oldest school of translations. Because it has been founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Old Tibetan in the eighth century. The Nyingma school considers Padmasambhava to be the founder of their tradition. Padmasambhava was an Indian Buddhist master who lived in the 8th century. He is credited with spreading Buddhism in Tibet. He was also known as Guru Rinpoche.
The original Mindrolling Trichen Monastery in Tibet was severely damaged during the Communist Invasion in 1959. Following the invasion, Khochhen Rinpoche, at the age of 22, escaped into exile in India as one of the seven-member retinues of Mindrolling Trichen Rinpoche.
In 1965, Khochhen Rinpoche and a small group of monks began the process of re-establishing the Mindrolling Monastery in India at Dehradun.
A photo tour of the Mindrolling Monastery Dehradun
The vibrant Mindrolling Monastery Dehradun looks picturesque and serene with lush green lawns against a backdrop of tall evergreen trees. With the world peace stupa for a company, it looks all the more magnificent.
Ngedon Gatsal Ling
Ngedon Gatsal Ling is the main monastery and practice centre of the Mindrolling Monastery Dehradun. Endowed with colourful pillars, elaborate frescoes, vibrant windows and thin wall, the monastery is a melangé of Japanese and Tibetan Buddhist architecture!
Photography is strictly prohibited inside the prayer hall of the monastery. I could just capture the colourful murals of the corridor ceiling that was elaborate with floral patterns, curvy dragons and Buddha figurines.
A closer look at the facade reveals multi-coloured patterns with gold dominating the hues.
Next to the monastery stands the Stupa. The entry for visitors is from the outside of the monastery. As we were exiting the centre, a frame beside the prayer wheel caught my attention. The colourful structure of Ngedon Gatsal Ling was so empowering that I missed seeing this mantra on the wall!
The World Peace Stupa
Supposedly, being 185 feet tall and 100 square feet in width, it is the world’s largest stupa displaying beautiful Buddhist art and architecture.The Great Stupa known as the World Peace Stupa representing the descent of Buddha from Devaloka was opened to the public on 28th October 2002.
Stupas are basically sombre places of burial that may also enclose sacred relics. The structure of the stupa represents the physical form of Buddha. In Buddhism, there are eight kinds of stupas commemorating the life-events of Lord Buddha as shown in the picture below.
The Stupa at Mindrolling Monastery has been built according to the architecture representing No.5 on the board above (Lhabab Choten). Within the stupa are relics of Buddha Kashyapa, relics from Guru Padmasambhava’s tooth offered by Nyenchen Thanglha and other sacred texts.
Each part of a Stupa’s architecture symbolizes a profound thought, quality and aspect of Buddha as well as his teachings and life. You may be interested in reading further on the symbolism from the photos…
On the facade of the World Peace Stupa, Maitreya-the future Buddha has been beautifully painted. Descending the steps is the present Buddha, the Buddha Shakyamuni.
There are shrines and prayer halls in each of the five floors of the stupa. Only two of the five floors are open to the public.
Photography is prohibited inside the prayer halls of the stupa. However, one can know what the shrine rooms encompass from the board…
Arrayed on either side of the The Great stupa are the miniatures of the eight kinds of stupas.
The stupa is surrounded by a 2-acre landscaped garden with a huge prayer wheel and vibrant statues of Padmasambhava and Yangchenma or the deity of wisdom (Similar to Goddess Saraswati).
With colourful prayer flags fluttering against a lush green backdrop of tall trees, the monastery looks vividly impressive.
The intricate carvings and liberal use of red and gold make the statue of Padmasambhava striking and extraordinarily vibrant.
The ornated door was indeed an eye-catcher! It resembled the flamboyant and elaborate Kathakali costume to me!
Carved sculptures of dancers and musicians adorn the walls of the premises. An array of Prayer wheels add to the divinity in the air.
The Mindrolling Monastery Dehradun also contains Ngagyur Nyingma College, one of the largest Buddhist institutes in India.
Visiting Hours of the Stupa
- Open on all days
- Summer Timings : 8:00 AM – 12:00 Noon and 02:00PM – 07:00 PM
- Winter Timings : 9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon and 1:30 PM – 06:00 PM
How to reach the Mindrolling Monastery Dehradun
- Mindrolling Monastery is around 9.5 km from Dehradun Railway Station. Dehradun is well-connected by regular train services to cities Delhi, Lucknow, Allahabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ujjain, Chennai and Varanasi.
- Its proximity to the pilgrimage towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh makes it a favourite destination for tourists and pilgrims.It can be visited on a day-trip from these two towns.
- Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is approximately 22 kilometres away from the city centre.
- Apart from this, Dehradun is well connected to most cities such as Delhi, Shimla, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Agra and Mussoorie by Volvo, Deluxe, Semi-deluxe and Uttarakhand State Transport buses.
Our family trip to the Mindrolling Monastery Dehradun proved to be an experience worth cherishing. I am glad we were able to drive from one end of the city to the other after a quick visit to the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun, on that morning. Do visit this beautiful monastery on a trip to Dehradun if you haven’t yet!
I hope enjoyed this virtual tour of the Mindrolling Monastery in Dehradun as much as I enjoyed putting together the memories of the actual trip!
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