Regardless of religious leanings, there’s something peaceful about visiting the grounds of a Buddhist monastery. The quietness, the flourishing natural setting, the architecture, these all seem to elicit a sense of calm. The Chuang Yen Monastery and the Buddhist Association of the US in Carmel (Putnam County) is no different. Located at the end of a wooded drive off of Route 301 in Carmel, the monastic residents are adamant about keeping the grounds as peaceful as possible. In fact, they inform visitors to drive slowly to avoid hitting animals, not to pick flowers and plants, and to bring only vegetarian food items onto the monastery property.
After spending the winter closed to visitors, the Monastery is once again about to open its doors for the spring season on April 1st. Visitors to the Monastery can visit the Great Buddha Hall, Kuan Yin Hall, dining hall, gift shop, Thousand Lotus Terrace, Seven Jewel Lakes, and the garden, which are all open 9am-5pm every day. The Woo Ju Memorial Library is open Saturdays and Sundays.
The Chuang Yen (which means “Majestically Adorned”) Monastery offers a number of seminars, classes, festivals and other events throughout the season, not to mention religious services for those looking for worship. A vegetarian lunch is open to visitors on Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 1pm for $6/person. If you bring your own plates and utensils, it’s $5.
The Monastery is also home to the western hemisphere’s largest Buddha statue, measuring 37 feet tall and surrounded by 10,000 small Buddha statues.