Carmel, New York : Chuang Yen Monastery

An absolute sense of calmness and serenity envelope your body the minute you set yourself onto its ground.  There is a quietness to its surrounding that makes it seems sacred but still inviting.  One does not have to be of a specific faith to visit Chuang Yen Monastery as proven by its melting pot of visitors each year.  It is enough just to walk its grounds to gain some self reflection or de-stress your mind.

The name, which means “magically adorned”, is home to the largest indoor statue of Buddha in the United States.  Its buildings rest on 225 acres of land, located in Kent, Putnam County of New York.  If you are coming in from the New York City area, the drive is around 1.5 hours.

The temple buildings were modeled after the architectural designs of China’s Tang Dynasty by architect Edward A. Valeri.  Surrounding the buildings are pathways that let you wander around the grounds to areas such as the “Seven Jewels Lake” or “Thousand Lotus Memorial Terrace”, and small side paths lead to various resting areas where you can sit in solitude to contemplate.

The first set of photos were taken when I had visited for a Buddha Day celebration.  These are usually scheduled to coincide with Mother’s Day every May.  The second set were from a more recent visit in mid-September when the leaves were beginning to, but has not yet fully changed colors.  If you can, visit during the peak foliage season of Fall, I am sure it will add even more magic to the experience.

Follow after the photo jump for more visitors information and directions.

Happy wandering!
Lan xx

Camera used: Sony Powershot Elph(can’t remember model no.)   Date taken : May 2009

Camera used: Iphone 5S     Date taken: September 2015

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Website : Chuang Yen Monastery

From the website:

Visitor Note:

We are pleased to know that you would like to visit the monastery.

(1)Please bring only vegetarian food products to the monastery. This means no meat, fish or eggs.
(2)There is NO smoking or drinking alcohol anywhere on the premises of the monastery.
(3)DO NOT harm or pick any flower, plant or vegetable, or feed or disturb any animal or fish on the premises.
(4)Drive slower than 15 mph once you enter the gate of the monastery. When guests drive over the speed limit on the grounds they cause harm to  small animals, especially during the springtime.
(5)Please park only at the designated parking lot.
(6)Wear proper dress. This means modest and respectful clothing.

We appreciate your cooperation. If you have any other concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We hope you will enjoy your visit.

With Loving-Kindness,

Chuang Yen Monastery

Complimentary Lunch Service only on Sat/Sun, 12pm – 1pm

Visitors to the monastery may enjoy a vegetarian lunch at the Dining Hall on Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 1:00 pm.

The lunch service in the monastery is provided by volunteers who use their weekends to come to cook and serve lunch for everyone. Everything we have at the monastery is made possible by donations from the public. Please cherish the food we serve, and take only the amount that you will actually consume. We suggest a donation of $6 per person to show gratitude.

Directions:

From New York City: Take I-87 Major Deegan Expressway North. Take Exit 5 Route 100 (Central Avenue) North. Stay left until the second traffic light. Take Sprain Brook Parkway North which continues onto Taconic Parkway North, take the Route 301 East exit (towards Carmel). The Monastery is approximately 1.7 miles on the left side of the road. (From Bronx River Parkway: Travel North on the Bronx River Parkway which becomes the Taconic State Parkway, take the Route 301 East exit (towards Carmel). The Monastery is approximately 1.7 miles on the left side of the road.)

From New Jersey: Take Palisades Parkway North Exit 20 to Bear Mountain Bridge. Make left to Route 9D (North). Take Route 301 and turn right to East. The Monastery is approximately 10.4 miles on the left side of the road. My note* Coming from this way, we’d mistakenly taken a right instead of left after Bear Mountain Bridge to Route 202 and it ended up being a nice drive with a Scenic Overlook about a minute in.  I think it’s worth the detour!  If you keep driving you can start to get back onto Route 9 after the roundabout to get onto Route 301.

From Connecticut: Take I-84 West to Lake Carmel Exit 18. Turn left off of exit ramp and turn right at the light onto Route 52. Turn left at the overhead blinker onto Farmer Mills Road and follow the road to its end. Turn right at the stop sign onto Route 301. The Monastery is approximately 1.6 miles on the right side of the road.

Public Transportation:

By Train:

From Grand Central Station to Cold Spring or Brewster, then take a taxi. The phone number for Cold Spring Taxi is 845-265-8294, and for Brewster Taxi the are 845-278-8830, 845-279-6552, 845-279-1390.

By  Car:

You can also arrange with Vanguard Int’l Travel Inc. (phone no. 718.888.1016) to bring you to CYM from Flushing, NY. From Chinatown, NY, you can contact Mr. Lin (212) 673-5186.

By Air:

For airport transportation, you can contact Mr. Lee Hai-bing at 914-498-2031.