By the Editorial Team
The beautiful state of Sikkim became an integral part of India in 1975. The mountainous terrain and beautiful orchids, along with the trekking destinations have made it a hit with the tourists who are drawn to the area throughout the year.
Cherished for its local attractions and sumptuous food as well as adventure sports, the travel agencies across India formulate a number of Sikkim tour packages for the eager visitors.
Of particular interest are the local monasteries that provide a deep awakening of faith in the Almighty with the visitors completely awed by the spiritual experience. There is a monastery at every junction with North and South Sikkim sharing them equally.
However, the following deserve a special mention out of the 75 odd monasteries that have enthralled the visitors. These monasteries compel the visitors to look beyond the worldly treasures and admire the benevolent force that reawakens the spirit.
This is the most popular monastery in Sikkim. Located about 25 km from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, the monastery is situated atop a hill and also known as the Dharma Chakra Center.
It is run by the Kargyu Buddhist sect that fled the Chinese oppression in Tibet. The lamas perform their daily activities with the visitors looking on. However, they answer the queries that the guests have while performing their rituals.
The enormous prayer hall is a place that offers solace while the murals on the walls, the statues and the classic thangkhas located there are worth a second look.
The architecture of the place leaves one truly astounded by its color and magnificence.
Open from 6 AM to 6 PM
Cost: INR 10
This monastery is one of the oldest ones in Sikkim and believed to be extremely holy due to its association with Ngadak Sempa Chempo Phunshok Rigzing who also founded it.
Ngadak was one of the trio who performed the crowning ceremony of the first ever Sikimese King. It is situated on top a charming hill in West Sikkim, about 40 km away from Geyzing.
The tourists are enthralled to find themselves overlooking the Rathong chu & Rangeet rivers. Mount Kachenjunga in its full glory can be viewed from here as well.
The main attraction of the monastery, however, is its collection of Manis or sacred stone plaques exhibiting inscriptions denoting the holy sayings of Lord Buddha.
Open 24 hours a day
Cost: Free entry
This happens to be one of the leading monasteries across Sikkim and located close to Pelling. One can also look at the ruins of Rabdentse, the erstwhile Capital of Sikkim from the top of the monastery.
The name of the monastery can be translated as ‘perfect, sublime lotus’ that refers to the nervous system of the human body. The monastery is dedicated to Padmasambhava also known as Guru Rinpoche who is believed to have revived Buddhism in Tibet.
The entire monastery has numerous statues of him and his followers housed at strategically. The monks are recognized by their red hats who chant hymns and pray continuously within the monastery.
The tourists are delighted to view five 8,000 + mountain peaks of the Kanchenjunga range from the top of the monastery.
Open from 9 Am to 6 PM
Cost: INR 20
The monastery is situated at the tourist hub of Lachung that sees hectic tourist activity throughout the year. It is also the last monastery of India in this region and beyond it lies the Indo-Chinese border.
The trekkers eager to trek to Yumthang valley make sure to pay their homage to Lord Buddha en route to the snowline. The monastery is small but highly significant with numerous visitors dropping inside regularly.
It is particularly famous for the dance performances of the Lamas (monks) that has become an annual ritual of this place.
Open: No bar
Cost: No charge for visiting the monastery
This monastery is almost 200 years old and believed to be blessed with divine powers. Situated about 3 km from the nearest city, it is a place of religious significance.
Lama Dhrupthob Karpo, the monk who could fly had blessed the monastery causing the deities of Khangchedzonga & Yabdean- who protect it by residing in the monastery. The common people believe that their wishes will be granted by the scared spirits inhabiting it. There are multiple religious paintings as well as artifacts scattered throughout its premises.
Open: No specified time
Cost: Totally free
At a distance of 6 km from Ravangla, this monastery belongs to the Kagyu Buddhist sect originating in Tibet. The monastery is well known for its collection of art with a huge collection of Thangkas and brilliant religious paintings housed here.
It hosts the Pang Lhabsol festival every year where the Mount Kangchenjunga is worshipped instead of Lord Buddha. Hundreds of tourists visit the monastery to witness the festival held during August to December.
The Mahakala Dance performance in November is exceedingly popular as well.
Open: 8 Am to 5 PM
Cost: No entry fee
Constructed in 1707, this monastery is deemed to one of the ancient ones in Sikkim. Also known as the Yuksom monastery, it operates according to the beliefs of the Nyingma sect of Buddhism started in Tibet.
It is located at a high elevation of 6,900 meters above sea level, the two storied, architectural wonder offers a panoramic view of the spectacular surroundings below.
The visitors are awestruck to find 2 statues of the lama placed on top of the building along with a bell shaped icon known as Gyaltshen. The narrow hillside pathways can be traversed on foot to reach the monastery from Yuksom located around 3 km away.
Open: No specified hours for visiting the monastery
Cost– Entry is free
Visiting the monasteries is an experience in itself. However, to understand the culture of the land and soak in the spiritualism associated with the age old monasteries found across the state.
One needs to avail of the special Sikkim tour packages that offers an opportunity to find peace and discover oneself via the teachings of Lord Buddha.
A few of these packages also arrange meetings with the spiritual leaders and allow the tourists to participate in the local festivals and rituals such as the mask dance and Chaam.
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