Just 50 miles north of New York City, a Buddhist Monastery can be found on a remote hillside of Putnam County. With the name Chaung Yen translating to “Majestically Adorned,” this somewhat out-of-place monastery is a sanctuary of peace and meditation a short drive from New York City.
Chuang Yen monastery houses the largest Buddha Vairocana statue in the Western hemisphere. The statue—appropriately found in the Great Buddha Hall—measures 37-feet in height and is surrounded by 10,000 smaller Buddhas all sitting in a lotus terrace semi-circle.
The monastery also features temple buildings across 125 acres of land, designed in the traditional architectural style of China’s Tang Dynasty. Originally designed by architect Edward A Valeri, the monastery opened the doors of its first building—Kuan Yin Hall—in 1981, adding subsequent buildings over time.
For the opening of the Great Buddha Hall, the present Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, attended the opening ceremony. Today, the monastery is a lovely respite from the bustling city, and an oasis of serenity and beautiful gardens.
Know Before You Go
The monastery is located on the north side of NY 301 about halfway between the Taconic State Parkway and Farmers Mills Rd. Visitors should keep in mind that this is an operational monastery and that people come here for peace and quiet. The monks are friendly and welcoming to visitors, but visitors are advised to be respectful, follow posted rules, and not to enter the restricted areas on the grounds where the monks live. The monastery is open to the public from 8 am to 5 pm, between April and January.