Old Ghoom Monastery / Yiga Choeling Monastery
At a distance of 1 km from Ghoom Railway Station and 6 km from Darjeeling, Old Ghoom Monastery, also known as Yiga Choeling Monastery, is a Buddhist monastery situated at Ghoom near the beautiful hill town of Darjeeling. It is one of the oldest and most popular Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the region of Darjeeling and also one of the must visit places in Darjeeling.
Yiga Choeling Monastery was established in 1850 CE by the Mongolian astrologer and monk Sokpo Sherab Gyatso, who was the head of the monastery until 1905 CE. The Monastery belongs to Gelugpa or the Yellow Hat sect. This is the first ever Tibetan Buddhist monastery to be built in the Darjeeling region. During the Chinese occupation of 1959 in Tibet many high ranking monks fled to India and took refuge in this monastery.
The monastery is known for its 15 feet high statue of Maitreya Buddha or Gyalwa Shampa, which means the Buddha of the future or the Coming Buddha. This statue was created during the tenure of the second head of the monastery Lama Domo Geshe Rinpoche (1910 - 1952). This is one of the biggest and oldest statues of Buddha in Darjeeling area. This statue was created with clay that was all brought from Tibet. In front of the Buddha's statue there are two huge oil lamps that keep burning throughout the year.
Inside the Yiga Choeling Monastery there are images of many Buddha deities and lamas such as the Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara), Buddha of compassion, and Tsongkhapa who was the founder of the Gelugpa sect to which the Monastery belongs. Ghoom Monastery preserves some rare, handwritten Buddhist manuscripts. There are also bells and a huge drum inside.
There is another monastery called Samten Choeling Monastery in Ghoom which is also sometimes referred as Ghoom Monastery by the locals. Located on the way to Batasia Loop and Tiger Hill, the Ghoom Samten Choeling Monastery was founded by Domo Geshe Rinpoche. The monastery follows the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. A 26 feet tall stupa has been built recently in memory of Lama Anagarika Govinda, a great scholar from Germany well known for his book on Buddhism.
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM