Rumtek, a village in Sikkim, is home to the renowned Rumtek Monastery, one of the largest active monasteries in the region. Established by H.H. the 16th Karmapa, it was formerly known as the old Rumtek Monastery. The monastery stands on land generously provided by the then Chogyal, Tashi Namgyal.
Located 24 km from Gangtok, the capital city, the Rumtek Monastery was constructed over a period of six years starting from 1961. It houses sacred relics brought from Tibet and symbolizes the spiritual energy of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism.
This vibrant center of Buddhist studies attracts scholars from afar who come to practice and learn about Buddhism. Visitors can witness the daily routines of Buddhist monks and immerse themselves in the lively atmosphere of the monastery.
Located in proximity to Gangtok, Rumtek enjoys a climate that closely resembles its neighboring city. The summer and autumn months from March to June and October to December bring delightful weather. Winters are chilly, while the monsoon season experiences abundant rainfall, which can pose challenges for sightseeing.
To reach Rumtek, hiring a taxi from Gangtok is the best option. Gangtok has well-connected roads to major towns in Sikkim. The closest airport is Bagdogra, and the nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri. From there, you can easily book a taxi to reach Rumtek directly. Keep in mind that since Rumtek is located on a hill and the road may have some damage, it’s recommended to avoid driving at night.
The monastery can be reached by a short uphill walk from the entrance gate on the main road, as taxis are not allowed beyond that point. Rumtek Monastery showcases exquisite Tibetan architecture, resembling the Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet. The vibrant exteriors amidst the picturesque mountain backdrop create a delightful experience. The serene atmosphere provides a glimpse into the simple life of the monks.
Within the monastery complex, there is a golden stupa that houses the relics of the 15th Karmapa. Photography is strictly prohibited in the enclosed space. The room showcases pictures of significant Buddhist leaders, landmark events, and important documents related to the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Visitors can meditate in this space while maintaining silence.
Witnessing the monks’ rituals is a fascinating experience, with traditional music and mantra chanting from sacred texts. The harmonious ensemble performs these rituals at various times of the day.
In the monastery complex, there is a small shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs or Buddhist texts for those interested in studying. Along the road outside the monastery, there are eateries that offer local dishes.
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