India: Himalayan Buddhist Art and Architecture (Summer)

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This unique study abroad program examines art history and Buddhism along the road that runs across northern India on the Tibetan Plateau. The program is run during the summer.

Learning is conducted in classrooms, monasteries, temples, mountainsides, and meadows.

  • During the program period in the Ladakh valley, students learn at the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies in Choglamsar, one of the preeminent centers for Tibetan Buddhist studies in India.
  • Learning is also conducted at the SIT center in New Delhi, where the program begins and concludes.

Experience many of India’s most remote and beautiful mountainous areas long considered sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists.

Students can expect to do the following:

  • Examine Vajrayana Buddhist culture, which nourished a rich, visual tradition in sculpture, painting, and architecture. 
  • Consider the ancient civilizations that thrived in the Himalayas.
  • Travel through the valleys of Spiti, Ladakh, Nubra, and Zanskar, on the Tibetan Plateau.
  • Discover the symbolism and cultural and religious significance of ancient Indian art nestled in remote locations.
  • Learn introductory Hindi.
  • Witness the stunning natural landscape and unusual wildlife of the western Himalayan area.

The program features an 8-credit seminar on Himalayan Buddhist art and architecture.

This program is also available for graduate credit.


Watch a video by alumna Amanda Levensohn.
Note for prospective students: This program includes extensive time on the road, particularly in the first several weeks. En route to important historical and artistic sites, the group travels over roads that are long, bumpy, and dusty. The group must cross rivers in jeeps, wait for landslide clearances, or make detours. The altitude is high, the food choices are limited, and the group camps for several periods. There is also no Internet or cell phone coverage, and satellite phones are jammed. While traveling between program sites, students have lectures, Hindi classes, and complete readings for lectures. The travel is challenging and rewarding! Stamina, patience, and good sportsmanship are recommended.

Costs Dates

Credits: 8

Duration: 6 weeks

Program Base: Leh

Prerequisites: None required, but a background in history, Asian studies, religious studies, architecture, or art history is strongly recommended. Read more...


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Summer 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Summer 2012 Evaluations (PDF)
Summer 2011 Evaluations (PDF)

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