Ghoom Monasteries, West Bengal, India
The junction of Ghum, 7km southwest from Darjeeling, is home to a number of colourful Buddhist monasteries. Yiga Choling Gompa, the region’s most famous monastery, has wonderful old murals and is home to some 30 monks of the Gelugpa school. Built in 1850, it enshrines a 5m-high statue of Jampa (Maitreya or ‘Future Buddha’) and 300 beautifully bound Tibetan texts. It’s just west of Ghum, about a 10-minute walk off Hill Cart Rd.
About halfway between Ghum and Darjeeling is the huge Druk Sangak Choling Gompa, also known as Dali Gompa, inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in 1993. Known for its vibrant frescoes, it is home to 300 Himalayan monks who study philosophy, literature, astronomy, meditation, dance and music. Come for prayers between 4pm and 6pm.
You can get to Ghum from Darjeeling by toy train (₹30), shared taxi (₹30) or chartered taxi (₹300 one way).
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