Monasteries in Sikkim
Red robed lamas enchanting sacred mantras, drums and trumpets blowing wildly in the background, prayer wheels whirring vibrantly and white lights flickering from decorative lamps is a not only a ritualistic presentation but is also a true picture of a rich cultural heritage and religious lifestyle of the people of Sikkim which is closely interwoven with the monastery culture. There are about 200 monasteries or Gompas of Nyingma and Kagyu order in Sikkim. Guru Padmasambhava is the preseiding deity at all the monasteries.
Adorned with life-like frescoes of hoary Buddhist legends, these Gompas and monasteries offer a unique opportunity of being one with the nature to people. A rare closeness to the Providence is felt here. These monasteries also serve as a store house of ancient Tibetan manuscripts, exquisitely carved wood work and icons of silver and gold. Some of the major monasteries in Sikkim include:
Located at a distance of 140 kms from the capital city, this monastery is at Gyalshing in West Sikkim. Belonging to the Nyingma order, this monastery is subordinated by several others. Apart from its religious significance, the monastery is also well known for its scenic location as it commands an impressive view of Mount Khanchendzonga.
A half an hour’s drive through the beautiful landscapes and mountains will take one to the monastery. The Rumtek Dharma Chakra centre at 24 kms from Gangtok was built in 1960s by his holiness the late 16th GYALWA KARMAPA during the period of his refuge in Sikkim after the Chinese attack. Some of the most unique art objects, ancient manuscripts and icons of the world are housed in this monastery.
A 200 year old structure situated in Gangtok on a hill top blessed by Lama Druptob Karpo, a tantric master known for his flying powers is known as Enchey Monastery. Built in the reign of Thutob Namgyal, it is an important seat of the Nyingma order. The monastery houses various images of Gods and goddesses along with several religious objects. A religious masked dance or ‘Chaam’ is performed here in January here.
Built in 1721 by Jigme Pawo in the Northern part of Sikkim, this monastery was totally devastated by fire in 1947 and was rebuilt in 1948. Around 300 monks under the monastery celebrate their annual function in the month of December.
Home to around 260 monks, the most beautiful monastery in Sikkim is the Phodong Monastery. 28 kms from Gangtok, in the Northern region of the state, this monastery has been rebuilt. Ancient wall paintings are stored in this monastery that is put on display during its annual festival. Religious dances are an integral part of this festival.
Nestled on a hilltop looming between the Rathong and the Rangit rivers, the Tashiding Monastery is around 40 kms from Gyalshing by road. Lying in the Western part of Sikkim, this monastery belonging to the Nyingmapa order is bordered by a plethora of Prayer flags that keep fluttering in the air.
Built in 1700 near Yuksam on a hilltop, the Dubdi Monastery was established soon after the consecration of Phuntsog Namgyal, the first Chogyal of Sikkim in 1641 A.D. Dubdi literally means ‘The Retreat’ and can only be reached by foot.