Rumtek Monastery is a Gompa. It is also known as the Dharma Chakra Centre. This monastery is located at Sikkim, Gangtok. The monastery was originally built in the mid-1700s, under the direction of Changchub Dorje. It is one of the most significant monasteries in Sikkim. The shrine was established to spread the teachings of the Buddha throughout the world.
This monastery is a storehouse of many religious art objects. It also houses some of the world’s most unique religious scriptures. Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies, a Buddhist college, is situated opposite to the monastery. The monastery gained its importance after China annexed Tibet because of which many religious gurus relocated from Tibet to Sikkim.
What is the history of Rumtek Monastery?
The Rumtek Monastery was originally built in the mid-1700s, under the direction of Changchub Dorje. This monstery served as the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in Sikkim for some time. However, when the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, in 1959, he found that the monastery was in ruins. Rangjung Rigpe Dorje fleed from Tibet. He then decided to rebuild Rumtek. The construction of the monastery was completed after 4 years.
The 16th Karmapa officially inaugurated the new seat, on Losar in 1966. It was called ‘The Dharmachakra Centre’: a place of erudition and spiritual accomplishment, the seat of the glorious Karmapa.
It is said that the 1st Karmapa spent many years meditating in a cave here. Ten thousand fairies came to congratulate the Karmapa and each offered him a strand of their hair. The Karmapa wore these strands of hair as a black hat. This was passed down and is still worn by the karmapa on ceremonial occasions.
What is the architecture of Rumtek Monastery?
The Rumtek Monastery is a fabulous and piece of work. It has used some of the rarest Buddhist religious artwork in the form of wall murals and thanks.
The Rumtek Monastery is a three-storeyed building. The monastery contains a marvelous main temple. It has a monastic college where the relics of the Sixteenth Karmapa are preserved. The monastery also has a golden stupa and a magnificent Buddha statue.
- The main structure of the Monastery has been made in accordance with the traditional designs of the Tibetan monasteries.
- The top floor of the monastery has a terrace and also a tiny stupa.
- The ground floor of the Monastery has a large prayer hall. The floor is decorated with large hand painted and intricate murals, statues. silk paintings and thankas.
- There is a shrine in the main building. The decoration of the shrine is a traditional manner with religious texts.
- There are buildings for the monks to live in front of the main monastery.
How to reach Rumtek Monastery?
The Rumtek Monastery is located at a distance of 23 km from Gangtok.
Train: Take a train to Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri (NJP). From there you can drive to Gangtok. It takes around 4-5 hours.
Air: Take a flight to Bagdogra, West Bengal. From there you can drive to Gangtok.
Road: Sikkim is well-connected to all major places via road.
What are the timings of Rumtek Monastery?
The Rumtek Monastery is open for the tourists on all days a week.
The timings are 7:00 am – 7:00 pm.
What is the entry fees of the Rumtek Monastery?
The entry fees of the Monastery is Rs. 10 per person.
What are the festivals observed in the Rumtek Monastery?
There are two festivals that are observed in the Rumtek Buddhist Monastery.
- Vajrakilaya Drupchen: This is celebrated on the fifth month of the lunar calendar of Tibet. It pays homage to the Guru Padmasambhava – the most important monk. This festival is celebrated for ten days.
- ‘Lama’ dance: This traditional and holy dance is performed on the last day. It is a delight to watch the performance.