Kye Monastery, Himachal Pradesh
Situated at an altitude of 13,500 feet and in a place that is known
as the 'Little Tibet' is Kye Monastery. The monastery is one of the
most frequented religious destination for the Buddhists in the state
along with the Tabo Monastery. Infact, people from all over the
country as well as outside the country come over to this state just
because they wish to pay a visit to the Kye Monastery. The monastery
is around 12 km north of Kaza in the Spiti valley (the Middle country
or the Little Tibet) above Kye village. It can be reached by covering
a distance of 210 km from Manali to Kaza and from there following a
track on the north that leads to the monastery.
The history of the monastery states that it dates back to 1000 AD. Thereafter, there have been several attacks on it. In the 17th century, the Mongols were the one who attacked the monastery. The 19th century saw three more effort to ruin the monastery. This continuous onslaught on the monastery resulted in frequent renovation and reconstruction work which in turn has given rise to irregular box like structure. So much so that the structure now gives an appearance of fort rather than a monastery.
Today, the monastery is renowned religious training center for the Lamas who can be seen dancing, singing and playing on their pipes and horns.
Inside the Monastery
The monastery is a wonderful example of the monastic architecture
that came into prominence during the 14th century because of the
Chinese influence. Regular invasions have led to temples built over
one another. There are low rooms and narrow corridors. Not so well lit
passages, difficult staircases and small doors lead to prayer rooms
which themselves do not conform to a single design.
The walls of the monastery are decorated with beautiful paintings and murals which instantly attract the attention of visitors. An image of Buddha in the position of dhyana is also there in the monastery.
The possessions of the monastery includes thangkas (a painted or embroidered Tibetan banner), valuable manuscripts, stucco images, unique wind instruments and on the top of all this a collection of weapons. These weapons were probably made use of to defend the monastery from the attackers. The wind instruments are still put to use during the enaction of Chham in summers.
Kalachakra, for Buddhist, is 1000 years or the 'Wheel of Time'. The
Kye Monastery was established in 1000 AD and in the year 2000, it
became exactly 1000 year old. This millennium year celebration saw the
presence of His Holiness Dalai Lama. The Kalachakra ceremony is also
initiated every year by the Dalai Lama. The ceremony is hugely sacred
for the Buddhists and sees more than merely pujas and religious
congregation. It is actually an opportunity for the Buddhists to arise
their Buddha nature by various means - teaching, prayers, blessings,
devotions, mantra, yoga and meditation. The ceremony that continues
for few days is an excellent way to discover peace within oneself.
Infact, the ceremony is considered so auspicious that even being
simply present there is believed to free one from his agonies.
The concentration during the ceremony is basically on five subjects - cosmology, psycho-physiology, initiation, sadhana and Buddhahood. Showing way to the devotees are the Kalchakra Mandala and Viswatma deity in union with his consort.