Menri Bon Monastery is located at Dholanji, approximately 20 kms from Solan City. This Bon Monastery was founded in year 1959 by Tibetan Monks who took refuge at this part of northern India. These Monks were Bon Monks and followers of their Supreme Bon. Bon religion originated around 18 thousand years back, which is much older that both Islam & Christianity, including Buddhism. These people are normally known as Bonpo which means “Followers of their supreme monk “Bon”.

Journey was very inspiring for me, since, I considered it as just a typical Buddhist Monastery at very beginning. I started by 3 PM from Solan on my bike, and took me just 30 minutes hardly to reach the place. Menri Bon Monastery is located away from city, bazaars and provides a very peaceful environment. After reaching, I started looking around for a point to start with, then I noticed stairs going up to the Main Temple. On my way, I saw a big playground, with a locked gate & a notice “No Entry Without Permission“. Few Bon children were playing Cricket and Basketball inside.

I started looking for someone I can talk to and ask about this place in detail, but there was no one. I could see only few Lama’s around but they seemed little busy in something. Hence, rather than asking, I started visiting each and every building around. Very first one was the main temple. Unfortunately, It was closed, which excluded me from getting a chance to go inside and see their ways of worship and rituals. I considered taking up a picture though.

Bon Monastery Solan
Main Temple of Menri Bon Monastery

Bon Monastery Solan

To the left side of temple, there seems to be home of Monks living there.

Menri Monastery Solan

Swastik symbol also keeps much significance in Bon Religion just like in Hinduism. I could see these symbols on many walls around, as well as on roof tops.

Menri Monastery Solan
Swastik Symbol on Walls
Menri Monastery Solan
Another Swastik Symbol

Bompo regards Swastika symbol as auspicious and of great significance.  Another symbol which is regarded as same is number 9 in Bompo community.

I continued going from one building to another. The one which you see in image above is Bon Library at monastery. There is also a building for nunnery recently constructed near by. That is the only nunnery of Bon Religion in India and one of few over the world.

There is another temple established at very end point to accommodate Lay people of Dholanji community. This building also serves to non-monastic community for their devotional & study needs, who comes over here to visit the place.

Menri Bon Monastery Solan
New temple for non-monastic pilgrims

Menri Bon Monastery Solan DSC_0214 copy

When I was on terrace, I heard one couple having an argument on something 😀 . Boy was trying to explain things to his girlfriend on the other side of above structure. I believe that they had seen me coming up. Slowly but in a bit rash way, boy asked his girlfriend:

Before, they could get serious, I considered leaving that place quickly 😉

Finally, after visiting this temple, I decided to go back. While I was way back to my bike, and not that far from this temple, one Monk passed by and gave me a smile. That was opportunity I was looking for 😀 It took me no second to greet him and engage into talks. At very first, I asked him if its a typical Buddhist Monastery or something different. Promptly he said:

Believe me, I was hearing this “Bon Monastery” word for very first time. I have no idea if people generally know about all this, but to be honest, I did not. So, the obvious counter question I came up with was:

He smiled again and said:

Tibet, and it is currently under the control of China whereas, Tibetans are running their Government in Exile from Himachal Pradesh. I continued talking about Tibetans and their conflicts with China.

I wanted to know if Tibetans are desperate for a free country, or they have finally accepted China over them. His reply was a big NO. According to him,

He was giving a look of English man, like someone from Europe have come here and settled up. On asking if he was from Tibet, he replied with another NO. He told me that his name is Dominik & came here in the year 1990. This was something special. I met a Bon Monk very first time in my life, who was French Native but not an indigenous Tibetan. The way he spoke was very respecting. I dint want to miss this moment to have a picture with him, so I started looking for someone who can capture we both in camera.

Another Lama came into picture and he helped me out with this.

Dominik Bon Monk
Dominik – Bon Monk

Overall, it was a very tremendous trip for me. I reached there expecting nothing but just pictures in camera. But end result was unexpected. I learned lot of things about a totally different culture/religion and a new one for me.

Bon Monastery Solan
Nunnery at Menri Bon Monastery
Bon Monastery Solan
Have any idea why they use this?
Bon Monastery Solan
Found them on the temple terrace. Seems like candles were lighten up on these wooden blocks
Bon Monastery Solan
Another Side View