One of the most significant and largest monasteries in Sikkim, Rumtek is perched on a hill overlooking Gangtok. The monastery was founded by Wangchuk Dorje, 9th Karmapa Lama in the 16th century. Originally called the Dharma Chakra Centre, it includes a beautiful shrine temple and a monastery for the monks. The shrine was established with a reason to spread the teachings of the Buddha throughout the world.
The Rumtek Monastery is located at a distance of 23 km from Gangtok and is surrounded by lush green mountains. It is a visual retreat besides offering spiritual solace. The architectural design of the monastery is very similar to Kagyu headquarters, one of the schools for Tibet Buddhism.
A Buddhism college, Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies is situated opposite to the monastery. A walkway surrounds the Rumtek monastery, where monks, pilgrims and visitors perform kora (one of the circuits round a monastery). Inside the main monastery there is a -year retreat center, a monastic college, stupas, a protector's shrine, institutions for the lay community and various other establishments.
The beautiful monastery has preserved a golden stupa and many sculptures which belong to the 16th Karmapa. The monastery gained its importance after China annexed Tibet because many religious gurus relocated from Tibet to Sikkim. It is a store house of many religious art objects and some of the world's most unique religious scriptures.
The main structure of the building is made in accordance with the traditional designs of Tibetan monasteries. Interiors are covered with murals, frescos, traditional Tibetan architecture, sculptures, and paintings. There is a shrine hall in the main building which is decorated in a traditional manner with a religious text, Thangkas, silk banners, including a 10 foot statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. The monastery is enshrined with 4 statues -Virupaksha, Virudaka, Dritarashtra and Vaishravana, who were considered as the guardians of the universe. As per the facts, Rumtek was the first monastery built in India with all the traditional architectural designs, and became the model for various other monasteries built later throughout India. About 2 km away from Dharma Chakra Center is the rebuilt 300 year old Rumtek monastery which was originally built by the fourth Chogyal.
His Holiness late Gyalwa Karmapa lived in this monastery till the completion of the Rumtek Dharma Chakra Center. The annual dances are held here on the 28th & 29th day of the Tenth month of the lunar calendar.
Address: 24km from Gangtok, East Sikkim, 737101, India
Founded By: Wangchuk Dorje, 9th Karmapa Lama in 16th century
Best time to visit: October to mid-December
Monday - Friday: 9.00 AM - 6.00 PM
Public Holidays: 9.00 AM - 6.00 PM
How to reach Rumtek Monastery
By Air: The nearest airport is Bagdogra, 126 km south of Rumtek Monastery. There are jeeps, taxis and private vehicles available from Bagdogra airport and from Gangtok Helipad, about 25 km north of Rumtek, to reach the monastery
By Rail: The nearest rail is New Jalpaiguri. This is well connected to most of the major cities in India.