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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

Which are the popular monasteries located in and around Gangtok?

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A. Want to surrender to the spirituality of the monasteries? Aesthetically built, the monasteries have much to offer to both tourists and devotees. They are the centres of Tibetan Buddhism. Although there is no dress code to visit the monasteries but to show respect you should be discreetly dressed. A few must see are:

  • Rumtek Monastery

    Also known as the Dharma Chakra Centre, it is located 24 kilometres from Gangtok. Originally built by the ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje in 16th century, it was re-built in 1960's by his holiness the late sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. It embodies the vision and aspiration of the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje and was built to establish his seat-in-exile to help spread the teachings of the Buddha throughout the world. Rumtek is the largest monastery in Sikkim. It is a home to the monks community, where they perform the sacred rituals and practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage. Many sacred objects are housed within the complex including the Golden Stupa, which contains the precious relics of His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa.

  • Enchey Monastery

    The monastery is surrounded with tall pines and glistening mountain ranges and it instills one with a typical quiet and calm. It is built on the location blessed by Lama Druptob Karpo, a tantric master known for his power of flying. Built during the reign of Thutob Namgyal, it is an important seat of the Nyingma order. The literal meaning of Enchey Monastery is "Solitary Monastery". It is believed that Khangchendzonga and Yabdean ‚Äì the protecting deities ‚Äì reside in this monastery and thus it is considered sacred. You can see the Kanchenjunga range from the monastery. It houses a large collection of masks which are used during Cham dance festival. This colourful and vibrant festival is celebrated in the monastery during the 18th and 19th day of the 12th Lunar month of the Tibetan calendar.

  • Tashiding Monastery

    Tashiding literally means "The Devoted Central Glory". Built in 1717 by Ngadak Sempa Chembo during the reign of the third Chogyal Chakdor Namgyal, this is one of the most important monastery belonging to the Nyingmapa order and is about 40 Kilometres from Gangtok. Situated on top of a hill that rises up between the Rathong river and the Rangit river and is surrounded by prayer flags that flutter in the air. There are many chortens dedicated to some Chogyals and some religious personalities of Sikkim. Buddhist mantras are skillfully carved on stone plates surrounding the monastery by the master craftsman Yanchong. The sacred ceremony of Bumchu, a Buddhist festival celebrated to predict the future, is held here at midnight of the 14th & 15th of the first Tibetan month. The festival, which is linked by an ancient legend to Guru Padmasambhava, is about a divine vase filled with holy water kept in the monastery, which is opened for public display and worship every year on the night before the Full Moon day in the first month of Tibetan calendar.

  • Phensang Monastery

    Located nine kilometres north of Gangtok, this monastery was rebuilt in 1948 with the help from the Lamas. It is set on the gentle slope, extending from Kabi to Phodong which is perhaps one of the best landscapes in the region. The monastery hosts an annual function on the 28th & 29th days of the tenth month of the Tibetan Calendar which normally corresponds to the month of December. Best time to visit this place is from March to May end and October to mid-December.

So lose yourself in serenity and calmness of these beautifully constructed monasteries which will soothe you even if you are not a religious person.

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