India: Himalayan Buddhist Art and Architecture

Explore the history, arts, architecture, and religions of the Himalaya.

offered by SIT Study Abroad

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Please visit our website for more information Study art history, architecture, and Buddhism across northern India on the Tibetan Plateau. Learn inside and outside the classroom. This program infuses learning in traditional and nontraditional formats as students travel from Delhi across remote areas of northern India. In-classroom lectures are interspersed with site visits, readings, Hindi language classes in overnight camps, hikes, treks, picnics, and painting excursions. Explore Vajrayana Buddhism. Students examine the unique Vajrayana Buddhist culture, which has nourished a rich, visual tradition in sculpture, painting, and architecture. Study rare art and art history in remote and beautiful areas of Indic Asia. Students visit monasteries built into mountainsides as they learn about the ancient civilizations that once thrived in the Himalayas. The program engages with those who have reconstructed this history, those who are creating new history, and those who preserve the art that remains. Travel the road across northern India on the Tibetan Plateau. The program travels through the valleys of Spiti, Ladakh, and Zanskar, situated on the Tibetan Plateau, with an average elevation of between 11,000 and 12,000 feet. The group crosses high-altitude passes close to 18,000 feet in elevation. Students discover how Spiti, Ladakh, and Zanskar are regions that remain culturally intact, their ancient monasteries and distinctive secular communities vibrant and creative. Often referred to as "Little Tibet," the region has been an important part of Buddhist and Silk Road culture for hundreds of years. Many of these areas have only recently become accessible by road. See the stunning natural landscape and unique wildlife of the western Himalayas. Besides having a spectacular natural landscape, the western Himalayan area is also significant for its unusual wildlife, including the Himalayan wild ass (kiang), wild yak, ibex, golden marmot, and blue sheep (bharal). Many unusual birds, including the Himalayan snowcock and the enormous lammergeier and griffon vulture, are also seen in the region. Lecturers and Contributors The program’s lectures are presented by the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies in Choglamsar, one of the preeminent centers for Tibetan Buddhist studies in India. The program's academic director, Dr. Mary Storm, is a Buddhist art history scholar with many years of experience in this northern region of India. She will give some of the lectures along with other scholars and professors at the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies. Independent Study Period Near the end of the program, students are given a short independent period to research and write a research paper related to Himalayan Buddhist art and architecture. This provides a chance for students to sum up and evaluate their experiences and think deeply about Himalayan Buddhist art and architecture. Some students opt to join a trek to visit the eleventh-century monastery of Sumda Chun, where they complete a site visit of plans, drawings, and assessment.


  • Asian And Asian American Studies
  • Art History
  • Religious Studies
  • Architecture


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