Khinmey Monastery – Radiant Gem

Picture an azure sky, fields of green and a trio of pinnacles shimmering in the morning sun. This was our first glimpse of Khinmey Monastery. But no sooner had we shaded our eyes to see them better, the road wound away and the three golden spires slid out of sight again. We drove on in silence, transfixed by the panorama.

A monk in typical attire

A monk in typical attire

The history of medieval Arunachal Pradesh is captured in monastic manuscripts and coloured by Buddhist mythology. A living example of this melange of facts and folklore is the story behind the name Khinmey itself which derives from a Monpa word meaning ‘a place for listening to dogs bark.’

Khinmey Monastery stands against a majestic backdrop of snow-clad mountains

Khinmey Monastery stands against a majestic backdrop of snow-clad mountains

According to the legend posted for visitors in Tibetan script and English, “the area was once covered by thick forest teeming with wildlife where hunters would let their dogs go and follow by listening to their barking. One day, they met with a great Rinpoche who was meditating in this solitary retreat. Subsequently, they were all tamed by the spiritual doctrine of this master which led them to abandon their acts of hunting forever.” The area then became a monastic estate and Khinmey was founded in AD 1440.

The entrance is ensconced in traditional Buddhist artwork

The entrance is ensconced in traditional Buddhist artwork

There are several monasteries nestled on the hillsides below Tawang town and each stands out in its own magical way. Personally, it was the kaleidoscope of glorious colours on display at Khinmey Monastery which left me speechless.

Lord Buddha shown with the more diminutive Protectoress

Lord Buddha shown with the more diminutive Protectoress

Ceiling detail with the Garuda Bird

Ceiling Detail with the Garuda Bird

An image of the stunning interior of Khinmey Monastery is shown in the carousel of header images on this blog.

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