Sikkim is God’s own land. It is famous for its beautiful landscape and mesmerizing weather. The vast ethnicity and history makes a perfect blend for culture lovers to visit here. Buddhism is the major religion followed in Sikkim. Monasteries of Sikkim are as old as its culture. They are found in every part here. They are built in enthralling surroundings of forest or meadows with the serenity of Buddhist traditions.
There are around 200 plus monasteries in all over Sikkim. Most of them are 200 – 300 years old and still stand strong in the mountains. Some of the famous Monasteries in Sikkim are:
Rumtek Monastery- 22 kms from the capital city of Gangtok, perched on a hilltop is the monastery complex at Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre. Facing the city of Gangtok, it embodies the vision and aspiration of the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, to establish his seat-in-exile to help spread the teachings of the Buddha throughout the world. Rumtek is currently the largest monastery of Sikkim which was built under the direction of Wangchuk dorje 9th Karmapa Lama in the mid 18th century.
Lingdum Monastery- Nestled amid the forested hills, Lingdum Monastery is 17 kms from Gangtok city. It is the Buddhist pilgrimage center which follows the Zurmang Kagyu sect of the ancient school of Tibetan Buddhism. Locally it is called Ranka Monastery and it lies in the village of Ranka. Though the construction began in the year 1992, it was only inaugurated in 1999.
Enchey Monastery- Enchey Gompa is in the Gangtok town near the famous landmark radio tower. It is dedicated to the Nyingma order of Vajrayana Buddhism. The location was blessed by Lama Drupthob Karpo, a renowned exponent of adept art in Buddhism with flying powers. The monastery was first built in the 1840s by the eighth Chogyal making Gangtok as a pilgrimage place.
Pemayangste Monastery- One of the oldest and famous monasteries of Sikkim is situated in Pelling known as Pemayangste Monastery. It was established in 17th century for monks of pure Tibetan lineage. Pemayangtse Monastery has more than 100 monks at present and is a parent Monastery of all the monasteries following the Mindroling lineage in Sikkim.
Dubdi Monastery- Belong to the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism, Dubdi Monastery was built in 1701. It is situated in Yuksom and is professed to be the oldest monastery of Sikkim. The literal meaning of 'Dubdi' in local language is "the retreat". The monastery is located on a hill top surrounded by dense forest. It can be approached by hiking steep slope for about half an hour.
Tashiding Monastery- Tashiding Monastery is described as the ‘Heart of Sikkim’. It is located in Tashiding hill above the confluence of Rathong Chu and Rangeet rivers. In the 17th century, Ngadak Sempa Chemp built a small Lhakhang at this location. During the reign of Chogyal Chakdor Namgyal, this was enlarged into the present monastery.
Labrang Monastery- In North Sikkim, Labrang Monastery is among the most important monasteries of Nyingmapa sect. It is also called Palden Phuntshog Phodrang. Located 40 kms from Gangtok town, it is situated in green hill of Tumlong. It was established in 1826 by Gyalshe Rigzing Chempa.
Lachen Monastery- Built in 1858, Lachen Monastery belongs to Nyingma Buddhist lineage. Locally known as Ngodrub Choling Gonpa, it was established by Lama Karchen Dorje Drak. Today the monastery functions under the guidance of His Eminent Lachen Gomchhen Rinpoche.
Ralang Monastery- Ralang Gompa is 6 kms from Ravangla and is dedicated to Kagyu sect of Buddhism. It has an extensive collection of paintings and thangkas. It was built in 1995 by the 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche. It hosts to an annual festival, known as Pang Lhabsol when Mount Khangchendzonga is worshipped usually in September and ending in early December with the Kagyed.
Tendong Monastery- Located at 8550 feet Tendong Gompa, is also known as Tendong Dichhen Salhun Gumpa. One has to hike 6 kms from Damthang to reach here though lush green forest. It was built in 1955. On the tenth day of the Tibetan lunar calendar (Chesu), local people come to the monastery to pay their respect and thanks to the head lama for offering prayers for their good health and good harvest.