About 2 kilometers from the centre of Darjeeling, is a dazzling white pagoda perched atop a hillside- the Peace Pagoda. About 100 yards away lies another structure spread over two-storeys- the Japanese Temple. This was built in the year 1972 by the Japanese Buddhist organisation and is occasionally also known as the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple.
As your car nears the pagoda you can see the gleaming white structure; sunlight perfectly reflecting off its smooth white surface. Nestled amidst lush greenery with prayer flags fluttering along the way, the daily humdrum of the temple prayers and visitors’ chaos breaks the silence of the nearby forest.
Spend an hour or two exploring the tranquillity of the place. The hillside makes a lovely viewpoint for sweeping vistas of the Himalayan landscape all around. On a clear day, you can see the mighty Kanchenjungha range as well. The Peace Pagoda stands as an embodiment of peace and is also the tallest free-standing structure in the whole of Darjeeling. The four avatars of Lord Buddha can be seen here carved into its walls along with artworks showcasing his life and relics.
A small walk downhill will lead you to where you started from- the Japanese Temple. If you happen to drop by the temple during the prayer session, you may be able to join in the prayer rituals. The beating of the drums reverberating through the prayer room on the top floor coupled with the solemn chants of the head priest makes for a surreal experience and might be your chance of a close encounter with your spiritual side. In fact, visitors are often given drumming pads of their own so that they can join in during the prayers.
The Peace Pagoda and the Japanese Temple is located in the Jalpahar area of Darjeeling. It takes about 15 minutes to reach by car, and the views along the way are nothing short of rewarding.
Pro-Tip: If you do not want to miss the prayers, time your visit between 4:30 am to 6 am in the morning. In case you happen to miss the morning prayers, you can always go for the one between 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm in the evening.