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Tabo Monastery to Get New Institute


A project to build an Indian Institute of Bodh Darshan (IIBD) at Tabo Monastery in India has been announced by Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh. Located in the Lahaul and Spiti district, the ancient monastery will be receiving Rs. 45 crore (approximately US$7.5 million) to build the international Buddhist learning institute.

Approximately 30 acres of land at Mohal Dhaang Chummi have been cleared and the necessary permission from the forest department has been acquired. The ownership of the land will then be given to the Union Ministry of Culture, which has agreed to fund the entire project.

Tabo Monastery in Tabo village. From Thinking Particle.

The Ministry of Culture is building the IIBD with the aim of upholding Tabo’s long tradition of Buddhist Studies. Virbhadra Singh told IANS (Indo-Asian News Service), “Tabo has evolved as an important centre of learning and setting up of IIBD will further bring the state on the international map which will help scholars and academicians pursue higher studies on Buddhist literature.” (The Hindustan Times).

The monastery was founded by the translator Rinchen Zangpo (958–1055) in 996. Since then, it has been one of India’s most revered ancient Buddhist temples and institutions for the study of Buddhist philosophy, and has received hundreds of visitors from around the world. In the 11th century, it was also the castle of Spiti’s ruler, Nono.


Image of Vairochana, Main Hall, Tabo Monastery.

Located in Tabo village, the complex overlooks the Spiti valley from an altitude of 3,050 meters and includes various caves and stupas. Its buildings are a treasure trove of ancient Buddhist paintings and artifacts—hence the area being protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and listed as a national historic landmark. The whole complex is laid out in the form of the Vajradhatu mandala, as is the configuration of images in the Main Temple, which centers on a larger-than-life, gilded Vairochana with four bodies seated back to back. The monastery also possesses an invaluable collection of thangkas (Buddhist scroll paintings).



According to the website Buddhist Temples, Tabo is now home to about 60 monks. Virbhadra Singh commented that with the additional IIBD facility, the monastery “will serve the monks and students, not only from remote areas of Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur, but also learned scholars from far and wide and help preserving the ancient seat of Buddhist studies and blend it with the contemporary scenario.” Also known as “The Ajanta of the Himalayas,” the monastic complex’s importance as a hub for scholars, philosophers, and those seeking Buddhist knowledge will thus continue to grow.






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