La Alpujarra, a mountainous region in southern Spain just a short distance from the Costa Tropical, harbours a spiritual and serene treasure: the Buddhist Retreat Centre Osel Ling. Not only is this refuge one of the few retreat centres of its kind in Spain, but it also has the added advantage of being located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada National Park. Situated at an altitude of 1600 meters, this oasis of peace is immersed in an idyllic setting, surrounded by majestic mountains and valleys that provide the perfect backdrop for introspection and tranquility. From this ancient farmhouse, one can gaze upon the snow-capped peak of Mulhacén and the charming white villages of Barranco de Poqueira: Capileira, Pampaneira, and Bubión. A perfect place not only for Buddhists but also for those in need of a stress-relieving cure, to escape the worldly noise, and rediscover themselves. Visiting it is like travelling to Tibet, and the best part is that you can explore it without the need for a meditation retreat. O Sel Ling allows you to roam its grounds for free without the need for a reservation.
History and Philosophy: The Buddhist Retreat Centre O Sel Ling has its roots in the ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Founded by Lamas Yeshe and Zopa Rimponché in 1980, the Dalai Lama himself visited the centre two years later, giving it the name O Sel Ling, meaning “place of clear light.” With the purpose of being a refuge for those seeking inner peace and spiritual connection, O Sel Ling has become a beacon of serenity amid the hustle and bustle of modern life. The O Sel Ling centre gained worldwide recognition in 1985 when Buddhism recognized Osel Hita Torres, born in the nearby town of Bubión, as the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe. The child continued his spiritual journey and, at the age of two, was sent to study at a Buddhist monastery in India.
Location: Situated in the heart of La Alpujarra, about 8 km from Soportújar, the village of witches in Granada, and even closer to Bubión, O Sel Ling is surrounded by stunning natural scenery, surrounded by lush forests and mountainous landscapes. The tranquil atmosphere and natural beauty make it an ideal destination for those seeking to escape daily stress and immerse themselves in a peaceful environment.
Facilities and Activities: The centre has facilities designed to encourage meditation and contemplation. Meditation rooms, Zen gardens, and open spaces invite visitors to explore their inner peace. Additionally, programs and workshops are offered, ranging from guided meditation to talks on Buddhist philosophy, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of this ancient wisdom.
Accommodation and Hospitality: For those who wish to fully immerse themselves in the experience and participate in the individual or group retreats organized, the centre offers accommodation options ranging from simple rooms to more secluded cabins, all designed to maximize peace and tranquility. The hospitality of O Sel Ling is known for its warmth and attention, making every visitor feel welcome and cared for.
Visitor Experience: From our perspective, the best way to plan a visit is by taking a hike from Soportújar. You will arrive in just under two hours, and although it’s an uphill climb, it’s achievable for anyone accustomed to walking. Upon arrival at the reception, you will receive a brief welcome, a brief introduction to the world of Buddhism, and a tour of the meditation room. You can then freely explore the rest of the complex after they explain the minimal rules to follow during the visit. The journey takes between 1 and 2 hours. The pilgrimage route takes you along a mountain path to visit sacred sites:
Prayer Wheel: Right at the entrance to O Sel Ling, you will find the Prayer Wheel, a huge cylinder supported on an axis and filled with thousands of mantras. According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, turning the wheel is to “speak” to the Buddha of compassion. You should turn it clockwise and relax; each turn is a request for what you desire most.
Buddhist Stupa: Start climbing to the stupa, from where you’ll see an incredible landscape. Stupas represent the enlightened mind of Buddha and aim to create a pleasant environment to help people approaching them have a good mental state. Its geometric shape symbolizes the elements of the universe: earth, water, fire, air, and consciousness. When you approach it, walk around it at least three times clockwise.
Buddha of Medicine: A little higher up is the Buddha of Medicine, representing the healing aspect of Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha. According to Buddhist tradition, meditating and reciting his mantra in front of it frees you from physical and mental suffering. They told us that you can also pray for the sick by offering a donation.
Green Tara Statue: In the highest area of O Sel Ling’s grounds is the statue of Green Tara, the goddess of universal compassion and mother of all Buddhas. After passing the Tibetan nuns’ monastery on your right, you will discover an esplanade with a small park and a fountain inside which houses the statue of Green Tara. In Buddhism, she is considered the goddess of universal compassion and mother of all Buddhas. She represents virtuous and enlightened activity, and it is recommended to walk around her clockwise while reciting a mantra.
O Sel Ling: A Gateway to Inner Peace: More than a tourist destination, the Buddhist Retreat Centre O Sel Ling is a portal to inner calm and spirituality. Amid La Alpujarra, it stands as a unique option for those seeking respite from the hustle and bustle. A visit to O Sel Ling is beyond tourism; it’s an experience that touches the soul and nurtures the mind.
How to Get There: The Buddhist Retreat Center Osel Ling is accessible from various La Alpujarra locations. By car, take scenic routes from Soportújar, providing panoramic landscape views. Despite the road conditions, the journey takes around half an hour. We recommend arriving on foot, hiking from Soportújar, enhancing the enjoyment of the surrounding nature. The distance is 6.5 km with a 700 m elevation. Look for signs in Soportújar to start the trail.
Entrance to O Sel Ling is free. Opening hours are as follows:
Summer: from June 1 to October 18: 17:00 to 19:30. Winter: from October 19 to May 31: 16:00 to 18:00.