Rumtek Monastery, is a Tibetan Buddhists Monastery, is situated near Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim at a distance of 24 kms from Gangtok situated above 5500 sea level.This Monastery is famous all around the world for the Buddhist Culture. Rangjung Rigpe Dorje was the 16th Karmapa, who arrived in Sikkim in 1959 and chose Rumtek, as his main seat in exile when he was forced to leave to India after the Chinese occupied Tibet. This Monastery, being the largest in Sikkim, is home to the Monks Community, and one of the sacred place of Karma Kagyu Lineage, where they perform the sacred rituals and does practices.
Rumtek Buddhist Monastery Gangtok Sikkim
The Glory of Rumtek was brought back by Him as it was destroyed by the Chinese and was originally built by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje in 1740, and continued to be the main seat of the Karma Kagyu Lineage in Sikkim. The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, rebuilt the new monastery in 1961 with the help of Sikkim Royal family as well as the Indian Government. The new seat of Monastery was called as, "The Dharmachakra Centre", which includes a beautiful shrine temple and a monastery for the monks and also a place of erudition and spiritual accomplishment, the seat of the glorious Karmapa on the "Tibetan New Year's Day" (Losar) in 1966. It has the vision and aspiration of 16th Century Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje builded this to establish his seat in exile and to help spread teachings of Buddha throughout the world.
Inside of Rumtek Monastery:
The main entrance of the temple is decorated with traditional colourful murals such as the one like Four Guardians of the Universe - Virudaka, Virupaksha, Dritarashtra, and Vaishravana - standing and guarding the four directions. A painting of a Hindu God(Lord Ganesha) is seen in this Monastery, as it was the vision of the 16th Karmapa in which he saw the elephant headed deity aiding the construction work. One can also have a Glimpse of Dalai Lama and Lord Ganesha at the entrance of the Rumtek Monastery which symbolize the linkage between Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhist school and Nunnery are placed along the monastery wherein religion and culture is preached and taught. The gates of the monastery are manned by soldiers monitoring arrivals because of some strife difference between sects.
Photo of the Dalai Lama inside the Monastery
Intricate paintings in Rumtek Monastery
There is 'Main Shrine Hall' built by strong red pillars with long, round silk banners and ancient thankas suspended from them along with the walls of the hall repleting with paintings of the Kagyu lineage, the Eight Great Bodhisattvas, the Sixteen Arhats and the Genduk Chogngi. The main highlight of the room is 'The Holy Throne of the Gyalwa Karmapa', seen along with the thrones for his regents and other high incarnate tulkus behind which is a ten feet large statue of Sakyamuni Buddha along with Shariputra and Mangalputra positioned. The hall having a large painting of Buddha, was shifted to another location in 1989 while enlarging the hall room.
Main Shrine Hall of Rumtek Monastery
Along with the Main Shrine Hall there are two rooms at right which are dedicated to the Mahakal and Mahakali. The left side of the hall serve as the gonkhang of the female protector of the Kagyu sect, Tsering Che Nga and fierce manifestation of Guru Padmasambava, Dorje Drolo.
The Monastery Complex Consists of the Following:
1)The Karma Shri Nalanda Institute of Buddhist Studies:- It is the most beautiful building of the complex constructed in the year 1984, which attracts numerous students from around the world who spend atleast nine years studying here with an optional three year isolated meditation. The main hall of the institute is on the thrid floor which shows awesome murals along with images of Sakyamuni Buddha and 16th Karmapa.
Karma Shri Nalanda Institute of Buddhist Studies
The 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje
2)The Golden Stupa:-It is situated Opposite to a small hall which houses the four metre high Golden Stupa containing the ashes of the 16th Karmapa ( who died in 1981). Behind this stupa statue of Dorje Chang (Vajradhara)stands in the centre with four great Kagyu teacher - Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa and Milerapa - on his sides. The statues of the previous 16 Karmapa are also seen arranged on the sides of the hall.
Golden Stupa in Dharma Chakra Centre
This hall is not always open, the one intending to visit it should make sure that they either knock loudly or take a monk along to get inside.
The original Rumtek Gompa which was constructed by the 9th Karmapa in 1740 stands 1/2 km to the new monastery is simple in appearance but attractive structure. There is a small shrine room dedicated to the Karma Kagyu protector Mahakala where the deity image is fierce and kept veiled. It is open everyday.
Rigpe Dorje Centre welcomes people of all ages and all levels from beginners to advanced practitioners to attend in group sessions and also provides Individual instruction upon request. The centre is specialised in organising three main things such as Meditation, Practice & Instruction.
Places to visit in Gangtok:
Gangtok in Sikkim is blessed with innumerable tourist attractions and welcomes people from all parts of the world. The hills and lakes come together to form a perfect picture of nature some being natural and some built by manmade few are as follows:
c)Fambong La Wildlife Sanctuary
d)Do Drul Chorten
All these monasteries represent a perfect Buddhist culture and have attained the status of popular attractions in Gangtok.
Two most scenic and highest mountain lakes in the World:
Special Pujas and Festivals Celebrated at Monastery:
1)The Losar Festival:- It is "Tibetan New Year Festival" marked with lot of gaiety, festivity, feasting and merrymaking.Often celebrated in first week of February month for either one or two weeks with performances of Ihamo.A week long puja in honour of Mahakal is performed by the monks of the monastery.It was for the first time that the celebrations in the monastery, were opened for public viewing.
Losar Festival in Rumtek Monastery
2)The Dungdrub Puja:- It is performed on fourth Tibetan lunar month with the recitation of one hundred million mantras by the monk community. The ritual of recitation begins on the fifteenth day and continues till the final day as this puja is conducted for world peace and to promote people to develop tranquility and compassion by embracing Buddha's teachings.
3)The 'Vajrakilaya' (dubchen) or 'Guru Padmasambhava tsechu puja' is a week-long puja done every alternate year together with traditional chham performances which are oraganised during the fourth Tibetan month (May -June).
4)The Birthday of the 17th Karmapa on June 26th is celebrated every year by organising several cultural programmes.
The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje
1)Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
Rigpe Dorje Foundation
503, 5e Avenue
Verdun (Montréal), QC H4G 2Z2
Tél. : 514-485-8886
How to Reach:
Nearest Airport:- Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal(124 km near Sikkim). Flights are connect to destinations like Kolkata, Delhi, Guwahati and Patna. There is a Helicopter service available daily to and from Gangtok and Bagdogra.
Nearest Railway Station:- Siliguri(114 km) or New Jalpaiguri(134 km) is well connected to Delhi as well as Kolkata.Here jeeps are also available on hire.
Nearest Bus Stand:- NH 31 A connect Kolkata to Gangtok via Teesta Bazaar and Rangpo. SNT (Sikkim National Transport) provides to and fro Buses from Bagdogra, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Calcutta with shared jeeps to reach Rumtek Monastery.
Image Courtesy:www.downtheroad.org, www.kagyu.org, sikkimnews.blogspot.com, www.rumtek.org,