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RUMTEK MONASTERY

AN ELGIN EXCLUSIVE FEATURE​ By Ananya Sethi

Nested into a hill amid the gushing streams and snow-capped mountains is the largest Buddhist monastery of Sikkim. At its elevation of 5500 feet, Rumtek is a place of beauty and simplicity that brings peace to one’s soul. The view is contrasting during May- June with its lush and exotic greenery of the valley.  The experience of hearing the monks chant attracts a positive energy around. Devotees and tourists are welcomed to meditate in harmony and spin the colourful prayer wheel to connect with almighty.
Image by @Northenescape.in, Instagram

It’s not just the green everywhere but everything in nature comes to life. The small streams, the waterfalls, and even the clouds come up with their own stories. – Parikshat Ghising, Instagram

Established in the 19th century, Rumtek, also known as Dharmachakra Centre has preserved its magnificent Golden Stupa, a 13-foot-high statue decorated with turquoise, coral and metalwork. The structure has a walkway on which the tradition of ‘Kora’ is performed; taking a round around the sanctified place to pay respect and seek blessings. The monastery also contains sacred painting called ‘Thangkas’ which enhance the beauty of this temple. The intricate detailing on the walls and ceilings showcase the fine craftsmanship that has been admired for years.
Image by Tashi Mannox, Instagram
If you look closely at this extraordinary picture of the HH 16th Karapa, you will see the face of a roaring lion or perhaps a tiger-manifested from the smoke of a bunch of incense held by the late 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. This occasion was to welcome in a new newly printed 108 volumes of the Buddhas teaching ‘Kangur’ and Tengyur’. Tigers are originally painted in the main entrance of the monasteries representing protection and pride.
It is believed that a thousand fairies greeted the first karmapa when he performed his first meditation in the cave. Each fairy represented a strand of hair which were later woven into a hat, the custody of which still lies with the monastery. In spite of receiving proposals for other sites, it was decided to construct this magnificent structure due to the sacred qualities of the landscape. The building today offers a temple, a school and a retreat for monks to meditate.

Image by @monkeystale.ca, Instagram

A puja at the small old Rumtek Gompa. The Buddhist temple is painted in red and gold with bright colors on the ceiling. The monks are chanting their mantras in the centre of the room. It’s a very moving experience. 

Image by @janak_vegad, Instagram

When you are late for class 2.0

Perched on a hill 23kms from Gangtok, the most convenient way of reaching Rumtek is to take a private vehicle. The monastery is a 1.5 hour drive from The Elgin Nor-Khill, Gangtok with astounding views of the Himalayas all along the route. Hiking to the top of the monastery to Shanti view point exposes you to a breath-taking view of the mountainous region and the gorgeous Gangtok city. So, do carry something warm for this sweater weather to recuperate and be amused by the charm of Rumtek.

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