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.