India > Sikkim > Monasteries

Buddhist Pilgrimage and Monasteries

Monasteries are the integral part of Sikkim. Most monasteries of Sikkim belong to the Nyingmapa order or the Kargyupa order. Near about 200 monasteries or Gompas belonging to that area, which are influence the culture and lifestyle of Sikkim. That is closely linked with Tibetan Buddhism.

Devoted Lamas robed in red, chant ancient mantras to the rhythm of drums and trumpets while soft lights flicker from decorative lamps placed before statues of the great Guru Padmasambhava. Feel the peace and quiet of being one with nature and close to the almighty as sacred words mingle with the whirring prayer wheels.

Pemayangtse Monastery

Location : Gyalshing, West Sikkim
Distance : 140 Kms. from Gangtak
Established On : 1705
Best time to Travel: Any time except monsoon

Pemayangtse means 'Perfect Sublime Lotus'. This is one of the oldest and most important monasteries of Sikkim. It was build by Lhatsun Chenpo on 17th century. That time it was a small Lhekhang. Later it rebuilt by jigme Pawo. This monastery belongs to the Nyigma order and all other Nyigma order monasteries in Sikkim are subordinate to it. There are 108 monks in this monastery, and they are basically from the leading Bhutia families in Sikkim.

The monastery is three storied building with good collection of wall paintings and sculptures. On the third floor of the monastery, there is a seven-tiered painted wooden model of the abode of Guru Rimpoche, complete with rainbows, angels and the whole panoply of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. The main stival of the monastery is on the 28th & 29th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar (probably February).During these two days religious dances are performed and pilgrims come from all over.

Rumtek Monastery

Location : East Sikkim
Distance : 24 Kms. from Gangtok
Drive Distance : 45 minutes from Gangtok
Established On : 1960
Best time to Travel : March to late May, October to Mid-December

Rumtek Dharma Chakra Center, the seat of the Kagyu order, one of the 4 major Tibetan Buddhist sects. Since the late 1960's, after the arrival of His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, the center houses some of the world's most unique religious scriptures and religious art objects. Traditional in design, it is almost a replica of the original Kagyu headquarters in Tibet. This is the largest monastery of Eastern Himalayas.

About 2 kms. away from Dharma Chakra Center is the rebuilt 300 year old Rumtek monastery which was originally built by the fourth Chogyal. His Holiness late Gyalwa Karmapa lived in this monastery till the completion of the Rumtek Dharma Chakra Center. The annual dances are held here on the 28th & 29th day of the Tenth month of the lunar calendar.

Enchey Monastery

Location : East Sikkim
Distance : On Gangtok
Established On : 1909-1910
Best time to Travel : Any time except monsoon

The name 'Enchey Monastery' means 'the Solitary temple' is built on the site blessed by Lama Druptob Karpo, a tantric master known for his power of flying. Initially it was a small hermitage is built after he flew from Maenam Hill in South Sikkim to here. The present monastery in the shape of a Chinese Pagoda was built later during the reign of Sikyong Tulku (1909-1910). The monastery belongs to the Nyingmapa order of the Vajrayana school of Buddhism. The three Gods worshiped here are Buddha, Loki Sharia, and Guru Padmasambhava.

Enchey holds its annual celebration during the 18th to 19th day of the 12th month of the lunar calendar (on January). The "Chaam" or religious masked dance is performed at that time. The monastery is also important in the observance of the festival of Pang Lhabsol, as this festival marks the swearing of blood-brotherhood between the Bhutias and Lepchas which had Khangchendzonga as a witness.

Phensang Monastery

Location : North Sikkim
Established On : 1721
Best time to Travel :  March to late May, October to Mid-December

This monastery in North Sikkim was built during the time of Jigme Pawo. In 1947 it was completely gutted by fire and was rebuilt in 1948. There are around 300 monks in the monastery and the main annual function of the monastery is on the 28th & 29th days of the tenth month of the lunar calendar which roughly falls in the month of December/ January.

Phodang Monastery

Location : North Sikkim
Distance : 28 km from Gangtok
Best time to Travel : March to late May, October to Mid-December

On 18th century, it was built by the Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal. The original monastery is rebuilt and at present one of the most beautiful monasteries in located in Sikkim It possesses some beautiful old mural paintings and has around 260 monks. The main annual festival is performed on the 28th & 29th days of the tenth month of the lunar calendar.

Tashiding Monastery

Location : West Sikkim
Distance : 40km from Gangtok via Legship
Best time to Travel : March to late May, October to Mid-December

This monastery belonging to the Nyingmapa order. The monastery was built in 1717 by Ngadak Sempa Chembo during the reign of the third Chogyal Chakdor Namgyal. It lies nestled on the top of a hill that looms up between the Rathong river and the Rangit river and is surrounded by a profusion of Prayer flags that flutter in the air.There are also many chortans dedicated to some Chogyals and some religious personalities of Sikkim. Carved skillfully on stone plates surrounding th emonastery are holly Buddhist mantras like "Om Mane Padme Hum" by the master crafts man Yanchong Lodil. The sacred ceremony of Bumchu is held here at midnight of the 14th & 15th of the first lunar month.