Norbulingka Institute

Nestled on 7 acres in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, the Norbulingka Institute offers a look at traditional Tibetan culture and a reprieve from the busy city nearby. As a refuge for exiled Tibetans, this property provides a safe place to worship, learn and grow the culture. As visitors, you're welcome to visit this destination as you support this peaceful organization.

Starting With a Vision

In 1984, the Dalai Lama set aside funds to build the Norbulingka Institute. Primarily, this property was meant to support Tibetan art and culture as interest grew in India. At the time, there were concerns about Tibetan art being lost to the ages as traditions became strained and artists abandoned their visions.

With a mixture of buildings and gardens, the Norbulingka Institute was inaugurated in 1995. It contained a temple, several guesthouses and open spaces for artist inspiration.

Understanding the Institute's Core Purpose

The Norbulingka Institute aims to further the Tibetan culture without compromising on quality of life. Essentially, this organization is self-sustaining. For example, Tibetans live and work at the Institute. Essentially, visitors who stay, shop and dine at the property are directly supporting the Institute. As a result, the residents don't worry about shelter costs and other burdens. They focus on their art and religion so that the culture remains vibrant and grows over the years.

Discovering the Art

Art plays a huge role in the Tibetan culture. For example, statue making, wood carving and painting are just a few of the skills practiced at the Norbulingka Institute. As a visitor, you can observe these art workshops full of eager apprentices.

Next, take a look at the Losel Doll Museum. Resident monks often create these dolls, which are dressed in traditional clothing. To create a visual impact, the dolls reside in carefully crafted backdrops full of Tibetan themes and religious meanings. Overall, this museum is an outstanding example of Tibetan artistry.

Shopping as a Supportive Patron

Visitors can support the Norbulingka Institute by purchasing items from the shop. Typically, handcrafted items are the draw within this shop. For example, delicate silks with Buddhist deities painted on them are exquisite gifts. Also known as thangkas, these unique creations are created right inside the Institute.

Certainly, all purchase proceeds support the property and its residents. Order religious art, gifts and other items online, too. In some cases, you can preorder an item so that it's ready when you arrive.

Staying at the Institute

For a stay of a lifetime, consider booking a room at the Institute's two guesthouses. Named Norling Guesthouse and Chonor House, these hospitality rooms include a private stay within a handcrafted space. Indeed, the walls have intricate paintings and craftsmen carve out the furniture, too. Because both guesthouses are on the Institute's property, the surrounding environment is peaceful. For example, spend a weekend at a guesthouse so that you can meditate and recharge before heading home.

Dining at the Institute

Because many visitors stay for an hour or longer, the property also offers a cafe experience. Here, order juices, tea or an assortment of baked goods. Indeed, this establishment serves vegetarian fare, which complements the Tibetan lifestyle.

Enjoy your snack break in either the indoor or outdoor areas. On a sunny day, many visitors appreciate the outdoor spaces with the water features creating a calming effect along with the tea. Certainly, the original design of the property encourages connections between the spirit and the land.

Visiting the Institute

Avoid the hottest parts of the year by visiting the Institute in the spring or fall. As a result, visitors can enjoy the outdoor sections in comfort. Truthfully, the gardens are just as popular as the art and other attractions within the Institute. In addition, the Institute is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day of the week except Sunday. For a quieter experience, try a morning visit during the weekdays. The early morning hours allow you to meditate in the garden without much chatter from other visitors.

Nearly every corner of the Norbulingka Institute is breathtaking, so make sure to bring your camera. Ideally, stay, dine and shop at this destination to support the Tibetan people. In the end, you'll enjoy an experience that contributes to the Tibetans' well-being and cultural heritage.

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