Cuddled in the laps of the mighty Himalayas, the state of Sikkim is the best-kept secret of India. With tranquility infused in its hilly atmosphere and ravishing woodlands scattered across its landscape, Sikkim offers you a chance to connect with your own soul and get closer to the almighty.
Don’t be surprised if you randomly hear prayer bells ringing, hundreds of monks reciting soothing hymns, and colorful prayer flags fluttering in the playful breeze of this mountainous region. That’s because there are several ancient monasteries hidden away in various corners of Sikkim. Not only are these monasteries decorated with art and exotic architectural design, but they hold great importance in the lives of the locals and tourists as they reflect upon the rich cultural heritage of this state.
Not sure where all to seek blessings from in Sikkim? Let us tell you all about it! Here’s a list of 7 monasteries in Sikkim where all solace seekers can offer prayers and immerse themselves in spiritual learning.
Perched on the misty hills of Sikkim, the Rumtek Monastery is famed to be one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in the state. A fine example of native Tibetan architecture, Rumtek was founded in the sixteenth century by Wangchuk Dorje who was the 9th Karmapa Lama.
In order to reach the main Gompa, you’ll have to walk about half a kilometer from the main gate. Also known as the Dharma Chakra Centre, this monastery offers you an awe-spring view of the lush green valleys and dense woodlands that surround it.
The Rumtek Monastery is mainly renowned for seating His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa who belongs to the Kagyu sect of Buddhism. This sacred monastery has been constructed using the one-of-a-kind Tibetan architectural style and it is nearly identical to the ancient Tsurphu Monastery that’s located in Tibet. Not only is it the hub of Kagyu teachings, but it is also home to some rare and valuable Buddhist art objects that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. The breathtaking terrain and the spiritual vibes of this location will certainly leave you mesmerized.
Also read: Adventure Sports In Sikkim.
Literally translating to ‘the Solitary Temple’, the Enchey Monastery is located roughly 3 km away from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Set against the backdrop of the majestic, snow-clad Kanchenjunga hills and nestled between lush green pine forests and vibrant flower gardens, the Enchey Monastery lets Buddhist devotees soak themselves in the serenity and devotion.
Home to the Nyingma order of Vajrayana Buddhism, this monastery is believed to be built on the land that has received blessings from the legendary Druptob Karpo. It is believed that Lama Daruptob Karpo was a renowned tantric master who possessed flying powers. It is said that the master flew away to the Maenam Hills and then established a small hermitage at this exotic location.
This holy monastery is dedicated to the worship of three deities, namely, Buddha, Loki Sharia, and Guru Padmasambhava. The monastery is home to roughly 90 monks that offer prayers to these deities every day. Within the Enchey Monastery, there’s a huge prayer hall that has a metallic roof. This roof is especially renowned for containing images of several gods, goddesses as well as tantric beings. The verandah of the monastery has a Wheel of Law that is rotated every time the monks chant soulful hymns. Apart from exploring the monastery in Sikkim, don’t miss out on witnessing the exciting Chaam Dance that is performed during the lunar month.
Also read: 5 Amazing Lakes In Sikkim.
The Pemayangtse Monastery is a small piece of heaven located in the western part of Sikkim just about 2 km away from Pelling. Erected about 300 years ago, this monastery is one of the oldest and most visited monasteries in Sikkim. This picture-perfect monastery with a name that translates to ‘Perfect Sublime Lotus’ attracts travelers especially during the spring or summer when the skies are clear, bright, and blue. Nestled in the midst of the Himalayan ranges, the surroundings of this monastery are bewitchingly beautiful.
Located right in the middle of some enchanting woodlands, this monastery offers devotees a peaceful and spiritual atmosphere. In fact, relaxing in solitude, exploring the ancient monastery, reconnecting with your thoughts, and listening to the soothing sounds of nature is truly an unparalleled experience.
This three-storied, architecturally rich monastery is filled with numerous statues of Rinpoches and saints. You will also find some old and intriguing scriptures and idols here. The visually delightful prayer hall is adorned with paintings and the windows are super colorful. This monastery also serves as a vantage point to view the ruins of Rabdentse.
The Tashiding Monastery mesmerizes all the visitors with its grandeur, ancient architectural styles, and peaceful ambiance. Set against the magnificent background of snow-clad mountain peaks, this location is ideal for all those who seek spirituality. Crowning the hill that sits between the beautiful Rangit River and Rathong River, the Tashiding Monastery was built in the 17th century and it belongs to the Nyingmapa Order.
It is believed that this sacred monastery can purify all those who seek forgiveness and are willing to repent the sins that they have committed in their lives. The Tashiding Monastery currently houses roughly 70 monks. The temple complex is filled with colorful prayer flags that add a certain vibrancy to the atmosphere. Apart from that, there are some holy stupas scattered across the temple complex that offer spiritual benefits to all the Buddhist devotees.
If you plan to visit the Tashiding Monastery, we urge you to visit it during the 1st month of the Tibetan calendar. That’s when the joyous festival of Bhumchu is celebrated by the monks and the locals and you will be able to take part in their celebrations. The sacred water ceremony that is performed during this festival is something unique and you might not get to witness something like this anywhere else.
Also read: Homestay In Sikkim.
Perched at a staggering height of about 4,500 feet, Phodong Monastery offers all visitors a panoramic view of the majestic valleys that surround the monastery. Established in the 18th century by Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal (ancient ruler of Sikkim), the Phodong monastery is considered to be one of the six most important monasteries of Sikkim. Home to the Karma Kargyu Sect of the Tibetan Buddhists, this monastery is filled with several ravishing paintings and murals.
The entire area was struck by an earthquake in the late 20th century because of which this monastery broke down completely. Fortunately, a newer and grander monastery was constructed almost immediately.
The monastery attracts visitors especially during the 10th month of the year (according to the Tibetan calendar) when the monks celebrate a Buddhist festival with great pomp. The monks who reside there together perform some sacred rituals along with the Chaam Dance and offer their prayers to the almighty. This monastery is home to more than 260 monks who pray and chant heavenly hymns on a daily basis. Phodong is undoubtedly one of the most enthralling monasteries in Sikkim.
Also read: Sikkim Travel Guide.
If you visit Sikkim and don’t offer your prayers at the Ralang Monastery, you’re truly missing out on a lot. Surrounded by snowy hills, this bewitchingly beautiful monastery adds a splash of color and vibrancy to the entire landscape. This exceedingly symmetrical monastery has a charming appeal because of which it attracts several visitors every year. The monastery also holds on to an enormous collection of thangkas and paintings that reflect upon the grandeur of Buddhist artistic styles.
Located about 13 km away from Ravangla, this location is reachable only by trekking which is good news for all adventure seekers. The story of why this monastery was established near Ravangla is quite interesting. Once the fourth Chogyal had come back after his pilgrimage, the 9th Karmapa flung out rice grains from the Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet during the Rabney ceremony. These grains ended up landing on the site at which the monastery is currently built on and that’s how they decided on this site to build this monastery.
The Phang Lhabsol celebrations are what make this monastery extremely famous. During the celebrations, the monks of this monastery perform the traditional Kagyed Dance with a lot of energy and joy. Partaking in the celebrations of this festival will certainly leave you overjoyed.
Also read: Traveling To Darjeeling.
Affectionately known as the Palace Monastery, the Tsuklakhang Monastery is situated right in the middle of the complex of a royal palace. Established in the 19th century during the rule of the 9th King Thutob Namgyal, Tsuklakhang used to be the imperial gompa of the Sikkimese royal family. In those times, this monastery was used extensively for all sorts of occasions like coronations and weddings. However, currently, it is one of the major pilgrimage sites for Buddhists.
The monastery consists of a two-storied Chogyal royal chapel with an assembly hall built in the center. All of this has been constructed using the native Sikkimese architectural style. The monastery houses a vast collection of Buddhist literature as well as scripture. Not only this but the monastery’s altars and walls have been adorned with vibrant murals and colorful pictures of the Bodhisattva, Buddha, and many other tantric deities of Buddhism. While exploring the monastery, you’ll also come across some awe-spiring Snow Lion’s Head sculptures.
Regardless of when you visit this monastery, you might be able to celebrate some Buddhist festivals. That’s because it hosts multiple festivals throughout the year. Grand celebrations are organized during the Buddhist holidays like the Losoong (Tibetan New Year) and Phang Lhabsol. The monks are known to perform the Chaam Dance and the Black Hat Dance (which symbolizes the victory of good over evil) during these festivals. Celebrating these festivals with the monks will certainly be an unforgettable moment from your vacation.
Also read: Best Homestays In Darjeeling.
How Many Monasteries Are There In Sikkim?
There are over 200 monasteries in Sikkim. Most of these monasteries or gompas belong to the Kargyupa Sect or the Nyingmapa Sect of Buddhists.
Which Is The Largest Monastery In Sikkim?
The Rumtek Monastery is the largest monastery in Sikkim.
What Is The Capital Of Sikkim?
Resting on a tributary of the beautiful Tista River, the city of Gangtok is famed for being the capital of Sikkim.
Which Is The Oldest Monastery Of Sikkim?
The Dubdi Monastery, which was established in 1701, is the oldest monastery in the state of Sikkim.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Sikkim?
The weather in Sikkim is at its best from March to November. Summers tend to be extremely pleasant in Sikkim and temperatures during this season range between 5°C to 20°C. Consider planning your trip during these months itself if you wish to avoid the bitter cold of the winters.
Do Monks Get Paid?
Yes, monks do get a stipend amount for their daily needs and the rest of the amount goes to their religious order and it is basically used for helping the poor and needy people.
What Are The 4 Types Of Monks?
The four types of monks are Cenobites, Anchorites, Sarabaites, and Gyrovagues.
What Is A Buddhist Monastery Called?
The Buddhist monastery is known as Vihara.