About 8 kms from the heart of Darjeeling lies the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery- the Yoga Choeling Monastery, more commonly known as the Ghoom Monastery. Built in the year 1850, the Ghoom Monastery attracts visitors from all over the world for its statue of the Maitreya Buddha. A staggering 15 feet in height, this figure represents the Buddha of the future and is believed to overlook the prosperity and happiness of the residents of the area.
The Ghoom Monastery is also a revered place for the entire Buddhist community and is believed to house single copies of some rare Buddhist manuscripts as well.
How to reach Ghoom Monastery
The Ghoom Monastery is located about 8kms from Darjeeling, and if you’re a traveller who has taken a cab from NJP station or Bagdogra, then you can hit the monastery on your way. The Monastery is located on the road that leads down from the Ghoom Railway Station. If you’re already put up in Darjeeling and are looking for places to visit in and around, you can take a cab to the Ghoom Monastery. Alternatively, if you’ve signed up for sightseeing tours with a local operator, rest assured, your visit to this place is inclusive of any Darjeeling tour package.
What to see in Ghoom Monastery
A perpetually quiet hill station, Ghoom is known for its sweeping vistas of the nearby mountains on a clear, sunny day. The Ghoom Monastery is one of the biggest attractions of this town and on reaching you’ll know exactly why. While entering the monastery, to your left lies the majestic Kanchenjunga range; the view is captivating and will leave you breathless.
Once you enter the main area, you feel like you’re transported to another world. An otherworldly sense of calm engulfs your being as you enter the Monastery that was built by the renowned Buddhist monk, Lama Sherab Gyatso, who incidentally was also the first head here. The Ghoom Monastery belongs to the Yellow Hat sect and stores incredibly old and antique Buddhist manuscripts. It also has a library with Tibetan translations of some famous works of literature by personalities like Kalidasa, Sriharsa and more.
Be prepared to be greeted by a huge drum inside, the hollow beating making for an offbeat contrast against the clanking of the prayer bells. Inside, you can see walls adorned with thangkas, and images of various avatars of Buddha. Another key attraction of this place is the enormous gold-painted statue of Buddha, the largest in the entirety of Darjeeling. The clay to build this is said to have been brought all the way from Tibet.
A traveller’s hotspot, the Ghoom Monastery with its rewarding hillside views, serene ambiance with only occasional prayer bells breaking the silence, and the grand statue of Buddha glistening in the sun is surely not one for the miss!
Also known as the Yiga Choeling Monastery, Ghoom Monastery preserves some rare, handwritten Buddhist manuscripts. The monks of Ghoom Monastery follow the Gelugpa order of Buddhism.