Having a mild nature of climate all over the year, the scenic capital of Sikkim is a pleasant meeting point of the other North-East states and different parts of Sikkim. In the lap of the Eastern Himalayan range, Gangtok features the jaw-dropping biodiversity of nature. The population of this pristine town reflects the culture of ancient ethnicities such as Lepchas, Nepalis, and Bhutanese. This city is in close proximity to the snow-clad mountains of the Himalayan range. And this reason makes Gangtok the most popular base point to the group of trekkers. Above all these, this Sikkimese town is one of the popular centers of the North-East tourism industry.
Every year many tourists keep their steps in Gangtok to explore the enjoyable chaos of nature in the lap of zigzag roads and greenish valleys. Nature-draped mesmerizing hilly terrains reflect the ancient history of Gangtok. In the early 20th century, this Sikkimese town was a part of major trade routes between Lhasa and other North-east cities. At that time also the construction of legions of Monasteries made Gangtok one of the most popular destinations of pilgrimage.
With the passing time, these Monasteries in every corner of Gangtok became the essential parts of religious rituals and influenced lifestyles. Gradually, the capital city of Sikkim became the culminating point of moral and religious practices. The lessons of discipline and self-control are taught in these Monasteries. Moreover, these Monasteries are also popular as the ancient education centers for the students and researchers. So, Gangtok is the home of beautiful ancient monasteries, and also the center of Buddhist culture.
The famous stopover of North-east states, Gangtok holds the bliss of nature, majesty of ancient Buddhist architecture, and snow-clad solitude. Now, take a look at the list of topmost sacred monasteries in Gangtok.
It is one of the most significant pilgrimage destinations in Sikkim. Green nature-draped mountains surround this majestic monastery and make it one of the most scenic locations of Buddhist pilgrimage. Tourists visiting Rumtek Monastery can experience the amazing scenic beauty of the capital city of Sikkim on the opposite hill.
This largest monastery of Sikkim belongs to Kagyu, the famous white sect of Buddhist religion. In the 12th century, the Kagyu sect originated in Tibet. Having the essence of Buddhist art, the finest ancient architecture of the Rumtek monastery resembles the original monastery Tsurphu in Tibet. In the mid-70s, Chandchub Dorje supervised the construction of this monastery.
In 1960, 16th Karmapa, Karmapa Gyalwa built Rumtek Monastery. Karmapa is the leader of a monastery. During the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese, he came and settled here.
Three storeyed Rumtek Monastery holds the rarest decor of Buddhist artwork. The specialty of this religious artwork lies in the thangkas and wall murals. Initially, Rumtek Monastery is called as Dharma Chakra Center, as well as the famous center of Kargyu teachings.
Rumtek monastery has a special hat as an ancient asset. According to legend, after the meditation of long years, the first Karmapa took his last breath in a cave. Then each of 1000 fairies greeted him with a hair strand. And the ancient hat is made with those hairs.
In the Rumtek monastery, the large prayer hall is aesthetically decorated with hand paintings, wall murals, silk paintings, and thangkas. Its first floor represents the ancient memory of the 16th Karmapa. Along with a stupa, a terrace was there on the top floor.
Timing – 6am. To 6pm.
Another popular monastery in Gangtok is the Enchey monastery. This sacred pilgrimage of Buddhists is a spiritual wonderland, surrounded by pine trees and charming flower-draped paddock. The scenic view of this monastery represents the literal meaning of its name i.e ‘The Solitary Temple.’
This serene monastery is 200 years old and belongs to the Nyingmapa sect of the Vajrayana community of Buddhism. According to legend, having supernatural powers, the famous tantric named Lama Druptob Karpo came from Maenam Hill and built this mesmerizing hermitage. In 1909, in the reign of Sidkeong Tulku, this monastery was renovated according to the pagoda style of China.
Now, 90 monks are living in this Monastery, which pays worship to Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava, and Loki Sharia. With its metal roof, the large prayer hall holds the decors of Tantric murals. In the entrance, the law wheel makes a bubbling sound, which complements the symphony of the chantings by monks.
In the wonderland of nature and spiritual power, Enchey Monastery becomes a popular tourist destination in Sikkim for its local Chaam dance. In the 12th month of Tibetan calendar, on the 18th and 19th day masked monks offer a prayer in the form of this dance.
Enchey Monastery also celebrates a religious festival, Pang Lhabsol, in which Lepchas and Bhutias take an oath together to keep the bonding of blood-brotherhood.
It is situated at the point of Nathula-Gangtok road. The best time of visiting this Monastery is In the months of September and October during the ‘Detor Cham’ festival.
Timing: 9 am to 6 pm
Ranka Monastery is also popular as Lingdum Monastery. In the East part of Sikkim, it is almost 20Km away from Gangtok. The mesmerizing scenic view of this monastery makes it one of the glorious monasteries in East Sikkim.
The wonderful forested mountains are neighboring this pilgrim destination to complement the most pictorial environment of the monastery. Ranka Monastery scopes the visitors to explore the amazing scenic view behind the Kanchenjunga range during sunset.
It was completed in 1998 CE and belongs to the seat of Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche. The 12th successor of this ancestry is the present Rinpoche of this monastery.
Along with amazing scenic views, the essence of Tibetan architecture attracts visitors to this monastery. In an internal passage of this monastery, a large Buddha statue, decorated with gold plates increases the serenity of this sanctum. The inner part of the sanctum holds ancient wall paintings and hangings. Low height tables, lying in an arranged manner, specifically used by the lamas during reading praying books. The major part of the two-storeyed building also holds the perimeter of the courtyard, which is used as a classroom during the training of young lamas.
Regardless of any religion Ranka Monastery is open to all tourists, who want to explore the aesthetic spiritualism in the monastery. According to the Tibetan religion, Rinpoche is a visionary saint to teach moral lessons to mankind. This monastery is not so ancient as the Rumtek monastery and run by the young monks.
Timing – 6 am to 5pm.
Tourists who want to explore the spiritual essence of Buddhism can take a tour to Phensang Monastery. One of the largest monasteries in Sikkim was founded by Lhatsun Jigme Pawo. It is the spiritual home of a large number of Buddhist monks. In the present time, it is the residence of 300 lamas, who are the followers of Nyingmapa form of Buddhism. It is in the north part of Gangtok with a 9 km distance.
The young monks are trained the essence of Buddhism i.e. ‘’.Bodhichitta”. The tourists want to explore the spiritual environment of gumphas, then this monastery is the best choice for them. In the annual event, the Buddhist monks performed ‘mask dance’ in the complex of the monastery. People come to experience the enchanting dance of lamas.
December is the best time to visit this monastery.
Timing- 8am to 5pm.
At the 6,500 feet peak, this 17th-century monastery represents the divine scriptures on the stone plates. It is situated 40 kilometers away from Geyzing. On the ridge between Rathong and Rangeet river this oldest monastery nestled in the West part of Sikkim.
Therefore, the monasteries-surrounded capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok is a very popular destination to explore the essence of ancient buddhist culture and breathtaking beauty of green winding roads.