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Would you believe Scotland is home to the largest Buddhist temple in western Europe?
You can find it nestled in a peaceful valley on the banks of the River Esk, in Eskdalemuir, around 15 miles from Lockerbie.
In the countryside of Dumfries and Galloway sits the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery, Europe’s largest Tibetan Buddhist abbey, free to visit for all.
‘The place beyond conception’
The site was founded in 1967 by two Tibetan refugees, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Akong Tulku Rinpoche.
Kagyu Samye Ling, meaning “the place beyond conception”, was the first Tibetan monastery to be founded in the West.
When entering the temple, visitors find themselves in rooms covered in red and gold decorations with dozens of gold statues of Buddha.
Visited by David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Billy Connolly
The grounds include religious monuments including the large victory Stupa, which symbolises the body, speech and mind of the Buddha.
Away from the temple, there is a secluded peace garden surrounded by a lake and accessed by a footbridge, a spot the monks use for quiet contemplation.
The monastery offers weekend courses and meditation sessions and has been visited by famous faces such as David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, while Billy Connolly is known to be a frequent visitor.
How do I get there?
If you are driving, you turn off the A74 at Lockerbie and follow B723 to Eskdalemuir. From here, you turn left onto the B709, following the signposts to Samye Ling, and drive through Eskdalemuir village.
If you are travelling by public transport, you can catch a train to Lockerbie, from here you can catch the 112 bus that runs to Samye Ling, or the 124 which runs from Langholm.
You can also take a coach to the monastery, while a taxi from Lockerbie costs around £20 for a one-way trip.