Gangtok is the Capital of Sikkim. This north-eastern state which is blessed by nature and retains a pristine charm is also commonly known as the land of quintessential waterfalls. Gangtok nestles in the eastern Himalayan range and it is is also the region which is enveloped in the benign halo of Buddhism. The sounds of gongs and drums and the chants of thousands of monks reverberate across Gangtok and other towns of Sikkim.
Gangtok is a cultural centre for Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning. The presences of countless monasteries, learning institutions disseminating the intricacies of Tibetan Buddhist culture and religion, and research centres make Gangtok a mountain lover’s delight.
Some of the top monasteries and institutions relating to Tibetology and Buddhism in Gangtok are as under:
The Rumtek monastery is one of the largest in Sikkim and is dedicated to the Kargyu sect of Buddhism. The original monastery was built in 1700 but had fallen to ruin. In 1960, the sixteenth Karmapa of the monastery had the monastery rebuilt and consecrated at the same spot. The monastery is built on the lines of a monastery in Tsurphu, Tibet and is an example of the finest architecture in the world. The main building inside the Rumtek monastery has three floors and has some rare Buddhist artwork in the form of murals. Rare manuscripts and 1001 miniature gold statues of Buddha adorn the premises. Near the Rumtek monastery is also situated the Nalanda Institute of Higher Buddhist Studies. The Rumtek Monastery houses some precious and rare artefacts of high value. These include a golden Stupa of the 16th Karmapa that is made of pure gold, a black hat or Vajra Mukut which is studded with diamonds, rubies, gold, and other precious stones. This was a gift to the 5th Karmapa by the emperor of China in the 15th century. A visit to the Rumtek monastery is sure to fill one with awe and intrigue.
This is a serene little monastery that is located on a ridge above Gangtok City. the place offers great views of Gangtok city as well as the Kanchenjunga range of mountains. The monastery is dedicated to the Nyingma order of Vajrayana Buddhism. Legend has it that the original Enchey monastery was founded and blessed by Lama Dhrupthob Karpo who is credited with superhuman powers like the ability to fly. The monastery’s architectural style is based on the Chinese pagoda style design. The Enchey monastery has a huge collection of masks that are used at various festivals by the monks to perform the famous mask dance. The dance is known as Chaam. Enchey monastery is one of the most important monasteries of Sikkim.
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is renowned throughout the world as an important centre of research for the Tibetan language and culture. The main building of the institute has an authentic tibetan architecture which is unique and one of the best examples of Tibetan architectural design. The museum which is located on the ground floor has a collection of very rare manuscripts, statues, coins, art work and embroidery. The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology has a library on the first floor which houses the largest collection of Tibetan literature and manuscripts in the world. The library has over 60,000 volumes that include the translation of the original teachings of the Buddha as well as articles written by eminent Buddhist scholars from across the world.
These are a few glimpses of the the shining icons of Buddhism and Tibetan culture that dot Gangtok. The state of Sikkim is adorned with the sublime presence of more than seventy five monasteries that cast a mystical and beautiful glow over the state. If you are drawn by the divine and mystical chants of the monks and the sounds of the gongs and drums touches a chord, then you must explore the monasteries of Gangtok. Sterling Gangtok is there to help you on a voyage of discovery in Gangtok.