Chuang Yen Monastery

An hour’s drive into Putnam County is a peaceful Buddhist monastery with 10,000 Buddhas.  Statues, that is.  The monastery sits on a large amount of land that holds a number of halls for meditation, reading, and eating.  The grounds are a nature lover’s dream, especially in the fall when the leaves display their colors.  You don’t have to be Buddhist to visit.  You just have to be respectful of the Buddhists who are there, since it is an active monastery.

The monastery greets the visitor with two Fu Dogs at the entrance.  These fiercesome Chinese dogs look more like squat dragons.  Interestingly, they always come in pairs, one male, one female.

The main hall, the largest building on the grounds and the one you first see when you enter, not only houses the 10,000 Buddhas, it houses the largest Buddha statue in the Western Hemisphere at 37 feet.  If you look at the contours of the ceiling, it looks like they built the building around the statue.

Set around the base of the large Buddha, looking just like stadium seating, are the 10,000 Buddhas. They are each about 4 inches tall and from my vantage point, look like they were made from one mold. I didn’t bother to count the number of statues but can easily believe there were 10,000 of them.

When you come out and walk the grounds, don’t forget to look at the building details. They’re pretty amazing.

There are two not-to-miss places that I want to point out.  There’s a beautiful lake with koi fish, called Seven Jewels Lake, that is graced by the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin.

There is also the somber granite memorial terrace that has a wall containing names of loved ones who passed away. Incense is burned on a platform in front.

The monastery is open from 9am to 5pm every day.  If you go on a Sunday, a vegetarian lunch buffet is available for $5. Directions: From the city, take I-87 Major Deegan Expressway North.  Take Exit 5 Route 100 (Central Avenue) North. Stay left until the second traffic light.  Take Sprain Brook Parkway North which continues onto Taconic Parkway North, take the Route 301 East exit (towards Carmel).  The Monastery is approximately 1.7 miles on the left side of the road.

If you need directions from NJ or CT, click here.

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2 Responses to “Chuang Yen Monastery”

  1. jocelyn Says:

    Pictures look awesome!

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