Explore the Ethereal Beauty of Sikkim Buddhist Sites
The Ethereal Beauty of Sikkim , it is India’s second smallest state, surrounded by international borders of Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal is home to the highest Himalayan peak in India – the Kanchenjunga. Surrounded by nations that follow Buddhism as their predominant religion – Tibet has about 91% population following Tibetan Buddhism; about 75% Drukpa and Tibetan Buddhist followers in Bhutan, the state itself has about 27.3% of its population belonging to the Vajrayana Buddhist sect. The state is considered a religious place by Buddhist monks and followers because of the presence of more than 200 Buddhist monasteries and Buddhist pilgrimage places in Sikkim.
The traditional Buddhist tour packages from different travel agents in India consists of places like Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Lumbini, Sravasti, Patna, Kushinagar – places where the Great Gautam Buddha is supposed to have taught about enlightenment and Buddhahood. Some travel industry experts have also now created special Sikkim Buddhist tour package that encompass different Buddhist monasteries in Sikkim and Buddhist pilgrimage places in Sikkim.
Few top Sikkim Buddhist Sites that have become a must visit for Buddhist pilgrims over the years are:-
- Phensang Monastery
Phensang Monastery built in 1751 this place belongs to the Nyingmapa sect. Located at a distance of 9 kilometers from Gangtok, the annual festival here takes place here two days before the start of Sikkim’s New Year.
- Tholung Monastery
Believed to one of the holiest places in Sikkim, the Tholung monastery was established in the 18th century. The monastery is home the sacred ashes of the revered Lama LatsunChembo which is put up for public homage once in every three years by the Government of Sikkim.
- Rumtek Monastery
Rumtek Monastery re-built in 1960 by Gyalwa Karmapa, this is one from most popular Buddhist monasteries in Sikkim, the place is also famously known as Dharmachakra Centre. It is an important site for the Karma Kagyu sect under Tibetan Buddhism and is the largest monastery in the state.
Read Also: Most Famous Buddhist Monasteries in India
West Sikkim – This part of the state has some important Buddhist places like-
- Dubdi Monastery
A Nyingma sect monastery located in the Yuksom region of Sikkim, it was built in the 17th century. To reach this monastery, pilgrims and tourists need to walk from Yuksom to the top of a hill where it is located. This is believed to the first monastery built in the state and is closely associated with the foundation of Sikkim. At 7000 ft above sea level, the stone structure has a bell on the top of the roof and is believed to house Buddhist ancient manuscripts and texts.
- The Sanga Choeling Monastery
Built in 1697, it is the second oldest monastery in the state. To reach the place, one needs to walk through steep hills and forests to cover a distance of 7 kilometers from the Pemayangtse Monastery. Belonging to the Nyingma sect of Buddhism, the monastery can be entered only by men.
- Tashiding Monastery
Revered as one of the most pious Buddhist pilgrimage site in Sikkim, it belongs to the Nyingma sect. It forms an essential part of a Buddhist pilgrimage tour India to the western part of the state and is visited by religious followers during the famous Bhumchu festival.
- Pemayangtse Monastery
Located near Pelling, this is an important pilgrimage and tourist site belonging to the Nyingma order. Built in the 17th century at an altitude of 2085 meters, the monastery is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and has the distinction of being the most significant religious institution in the state.
- Ralong Palchen Choling Monastery
Ralong Palchen Choling Monastery belongs to the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism and is known of its collection of Buddhist paintings. From September till December every year, the Pang Lhabsol festival is organized here that is witness to celebrations and participation of local dance forms and folklore.