Merigar West, the European Gar, is located on the slopes of Mt. Amiata in Tuscany. It was founded by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in 1981 and was the first centre of the Dzogchen Community.
Merigar means “place of the fire mountain”. The Gar is spread over an area of about fifty hectares and is bordered by Monte Amiata to the Northeast and Monte Labbro to the Southwest. Originally, the only habitable structure on the land was the farmhouse. It has been renovated and remodelled over the years.
Now called the Serkhang (the golden house), it contains the office, the refectory, a shop and accommodation for the custodian (Gekö). A new building was constructed to house a library with an important collection of Tibetan texts as well as the Mandala hall where the Vajra Dance is practiced. Cabins where members can do personal retreats were built in the centre of a forest grove.
The Gonpa, or Temple of the Great Contemplation, was completed in 1990 and inaugurated by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. In 1998 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu inaugurated the Great Stupa. The Stupa is a reliquary monument representing the Buddha’s illumination. It is meant to promote the well-being and prosperity of the place where it stands. All the buildings have been harmoniously set into Merigar’s wonderful natural surroundings.
Over the years Merigar West has played host to the teachings of some of the most important Masters of the Tibetan spiritual tradition, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Penor Rinpoche, Sakya Trizin, Jetsun Chimed Luding, the Twelfth Tai Situpa, the Twelfth Gyalwang Drugpa, Sögyal Rinpoche, Lopön Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, Drugu Chögyal Rinpoche, Dorzong Rinpoche, Ontul Rinpoche, Ayang Rinpoche, Trogawa Rinpoche and Sey Rinpoche.