Samten Choling Monastery
Samten Choling Buddhist Monastery is located in Ghum and is often referred as the Ghum Monastery. But the old and the original Ghum Monastery is the Yiga Choeling
which is another 1km away tucked at the end of a narrow road.
Samten Choling is located in Ghum conveniently on the Hill Cart Road some 7km away from the town of Darjeeling. So unless you specifically mention, the cab driver is likely to bring you here saying that this is the Ghum Monastery. Most locals actually call this as the Ghum monastery.
Since it's on the way to Batasia and Tiger Hill, it's also convenient to visit this monastery as part of the 3-point tour. When you go from Darjeeling town towards Ghum, before you reach the Ghum station you will see Samten Choling monastery on your right. There is a big gate having a square arch. From the gate you can see the main Monastery building which has a white body and a golden top.
Climb down the few stairs and you will be on a large open patio. On one side is the main prayer building. Inside, the main attraction is the huge 26-ft model of Lord Buddha built in recent time in honor of the renowned scholar Lama Anagarika Govinda. His book on Buddhism has received great acclaims all across the Buddhist community in the world.
If you come early in the morning or in the evening during the prayer time, the chanting and the humming sound made by the young lamas and the monks creates great spiritual atmosphere. You can be with them as long as you want during the prayers. The monastery has great collections of Buddhist books and Manuscripts. It belongs to the Yellow Hat sect.
Samten Choling Monastery, Ghum
On one side of the premises is a small cafe which opens early in the morning mainly for the tourists returning from Tiger Hill
having seen the sunrise.
Since the monastery is on the way back to Darjeeling town, this is where many people drop in, join the prayers and have some tea or coffee at the cafe. Other than tea, the cafe offers biscuits and light vegetarian snacks as well. It closes down later during the day time.
Statue of Buddha, Samten Cholin Monastery
On another side of the patio you will notice a stairway from outside leading up to the open roof of a one storey building. Climb up the short flights of stairs. Nobody will stop you. There is a surprise up there! Once you get on top to the open terrace and look out towards back side, the view is simply awesome. You will see the wonderful snow peaks of Kanchenjunga on a clear day and most striking is the view of mountains from three sides forming a lovely valley. You will also see the rows of cute wooden cottages along the slope of the hills. On one side of the terrace are rooms where the monks of the monastery stay. You can peep through the windows to see how they live :)
Watch the video of the monastery
All days a week, early morning till evening.
Samten Choling Monastery is located about 7km from the Darjeeling town. It's about 20 minutes drive from the Darjeeling town and on the Hill Cart Road that goes all the way to Siliguri. Check out Ghum & Its Map
to see the location.
Vidya (March 2016)
Yes, I too thought this was the Ghoom monastery as our driver took us there ! Then I saw the pictures of the original monastery. There are many women selling shawls and winter wear on the slope leading to the Samten Monastery. Bought some things from them.