Monasteries in Sikkim are normally called Gompa, ManiLakhang, Lhakhang, Tshamkhang and Dupkhangs. Gompa means Solitary place or wilderness in simple term. Sikkim has near about 200 monasteries or Gompas belonging to the Nyingma and Kagyu order. It has not only been influencing the cultural heritage and lifestyle of the people, but also demonstrates the ancient rituals in practice. Devoted Lamas robed in red, chant ancient mantras to the rhythm of drums and trumpets while soft lights flicker from decorative lamps placed before statues of the great Guru Padmasambhava. Feel the peace and quietness of being one with nature and close to the almighty as sacred words mingle with the whirring prayer wheels. The Gompas are adorned with life-like frescoes of hoary Buddhist legends, rare silk and brocade Thangkas. Also preserved here are ancient Tibetan manuscripts, exquisitely carved wood work and icons of silver and gold.
There are mainly three types of Monasteries in Sikkim since ancient times ROCK CAVES where saints worshipped, GOMPAS where Lamas meditate, MONASTERIES of Villages and Towns where religious discourses worship and meditates.
Sikkim has numerous Buddhist Monasteries of significant importance with the blessing of Guru Padmasambhava and other spiritual masters who visited and roamed around Sikkim in ancient times. Most of the monasteries are built between 1600 A.D to 1700 A.D. Some of the famous Monastery of Sikkim are as folow:
DUBDI MONASTERY (1647 A.D)
Dubdi Monastery is an oldest Monastery in Sikkim and was founded in 1647 AD by first ruler of Sikkim Chogyal Phuntshog Namgyal in veneration to the Patron saint GYALWA LHATSUN CHHENPO. It is located at the hilltop near Yuksam which is approachable by foot. Dubdi literally means "the Hermit's cell" or 'the retreat'. Dubdi Monastery belongs to the Nyingma Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Dubdi Monastery has huge historical significance in the history of Sikkim. It houses rare collection of manuscript and other rituals texts.
PEMAYANGTSE MONASTERY (1650 - 1651 A.D)
Pemayangtse Monastery is situated in Pemayangste near Pelling in West Sikkim. Pemayangtse means "Perfect Sublime Lotus" and is said to represent one of the four plexus of the human body. This monastery belongs to the Nyingma order of Buddhism and all other Nyingma monasteries in Sikkim are subordinate to it. It is said to be designed and founded by Lama Lhatsun Chempo in 1647. Only the monks of Pemayangtse monastery in Sikkim are entitled to the title of "ta-tshang" meaning "monks of pure lineage" and its head lama enjoys certain privilages. A wooden materpiece SANGDOGPALRI "the Guru Rimpoches heavenly abode" carved out of single tree is a main attraction and is kept in the upper portion of the monastery. A special main festival GURU DRAKMAR CHHAM is celebrated every year in the month of February - March.
RUMTEK MONASTERY (1734 A.D)
Rumtek Monastery is situated at Rumtek which is 24 km away from Gangtok. Rumtek Monastery also know as Dharma Chakra centre was founded by his holiness the 9th KARMAPA in16th century. It was inaugurated in 1966 by his holiness the 16th GYALWA KARMAPA as his main seat in exlie. It is the largest monastery in sikkim and houses hundreds of monks. The monks of Rumtek Monastery follows and perform rituals and practices of Karma Kagyu Lineage. It houses some of the worlds most unique art objects, ancient manuscripts and icons. Karma shri Nalanda Institute for higher Buddhist studies is also situated in Rumtek.
TASHIDING MONASTERY (1651 A.D)
Tashiding Monastery is situated at Tashiding Village and belonging to the Nyingmapa order of Buddhism and follows Jhang Ter lineage. It lies nestled on the top of a hill that looms up between the Rathong river and the Rangit river and is surrounded by a profusion of Prayer flags that flutter in the air. Tashiding means "The Devoted Central Glory". According to legend it is believed to be a navel point of the holy places in Sikkim from religious point of view. A great buddhist tantrayana master GURU PADMASHAMBHAVA is said to have made his miraculous visit to this hill in 8th century A.D. This is another important monastery of Sikkim which is considered as the most sacred and holiest of all. A "SACRED VASE" of Guru Padmasambhava is in Tashiding Monastery and special "BUM CHU" festival is celebrated every year on the 14th and 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan Lunar calendar.
PHENSANG MONASTERY (1651 A.D)
Phensang monastery is located about a kilometer uphill by a road that bifurcates from the North Sikkim highway. It was built in 1721 during the time of 3rd Lhatsun Jigmed Pawo and rebuilt in 1840 A.D to accommodate large number of monks. In 1947 it was completely gutted by a devastating fire however it was rebuilt in 1948. It belongs to the Nyingmapa order of Buddhism. During the Sikkimese new year in the month of december special sacred masked dance is performed by the monks.
PHODANG MONASTERY (1734 A.D)
Phodong monastery is located in North Sikkim, 38 km from Gangtok and belongs to Kagyupa sect of Buddhism. It was actually founded by the fourth king Gyurmed Namgyal but unfortunately he passed away in 1934 A.D i.e. two years after the demise of 12th Karmapa and later the lamas with the support of local lay man completed the Monastery in 1740 A.D. It was built in the early 18th century but an old Monastery had pre existed the current one.
SANGA CHOELING MONASTERY (1649 - 1650 A.D)
Sanga Choeling Monastery is located atop a high ridge opposite to Pemayangtse Monastery near Pelling. Sanga Choeling means "the island of esoteric or secret mantra teaching". It was established in 17th century by Lama Lhatsun Chempo during the reign of first king Phuntshok Namgyal. It is considered to be the second oldest Monastery in Sikkim and belongs to Nyingmapa sect of Mindroling Lineage.
KHECHUPELRI MONASTERY (1760 A.D)
Khechupelri Monastery is located above the hill of famous Khechopelri Lake (wish full filling lake). It was founded by a saint called Drubwang Shakya in the Iron-Dragon year of thirteen Rabjung cycle, which corresponds to 1760 AD. His incarnation was born in a simple Lepcha family and later renowned as Lama Dorje Gyaltshen or Drubwang Lozang Gyaltshen who was highly regarded as Hidden Naljorpa (Yogi) of Khachoedpalri during the reign of Chhogyal Thutob Namgyal (1874-1914). He had extra-ordinary traits and one of his noble visions was to build a Replica of Boudha Stupa of Nepal though he had never seen the Stupa.
MELLIATSHING MONASTERY (1740 A.D)
MelliAtshing Monastery is situated in Melli Village which is on the top of the hill surrounded by Pelling, Khechupelri and Yuksam. This Monastery is said to have been built by Lama Dudjom Yeshey Nyingpo in 1740 AD. Melli basically means 'a lepcha village' in simple term however according to Lama Dudjom who is said to have named the place, it means 'MEHLEY' which means MEH (FIRE) and LEY (DISAPPEAR). It was here in this hill top Lama Dudjom saw flickering flame appearing and disappering while on his way back from Nup Dechen Phuk (Holy Cave).
SINON MONASTERY (1716 A.D)
Sinon Monastery is situated at Sinon village adjacent to Tashding Village. Sinon literally means 'the suppressor of intense fear'. According to the history of Sikkim recorded by Chogyal Thutob Namgyal Ngadag Rinchhen Gon, the grand son of Saint Ngadag Sempa Chhenpo (one of the three pioneer Lamas of Sikkim), built Silnon Monastery in 1716 A.D. Sinon Monastery belongs to the Jhang -Ter lineage of Nyingmapa Sect.
DOLING MONASTERY (1718 A.D)
Doling Monastery is situated on a small hillock Barfung Village which is in between Ravangla and Kewzing village. Lama Rigdzin Longyang founded this monastery in the earth-dog year of 12th Rabjung cycle year corresponding to 1718. A.D. The monastery belongs to the Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism and follows Kadue Chokyi Gyatso of eastern Treasure.
ENCHEY MONASTERY (1840 A.D)
Enchen Monastery is siituated on the beautiful hilltop near Gangtok. An important seat of the Nyingma order, the Enchey Monastery is built on the site blessed by Lama Druptob Karpo a tantric master known for his power of flying. The Monastery performs an annual mask dance on the eve of the Sikkimese Loosong corresponding to the month of December - January.
YANGANG MONASTERY (1787 A.D)
Yangang Monastery was founded by 5th Lhatsun Pema Dechen Gyatsho in 1787 A.D. Yangang means 'the Ridge of Fortune'. This monastery was most probably rebuilt in 1840 - 1841 as indicated in the Gazzette of Sikkim as during this time famous Botanist Dr. J.D. Hooker made a visit to this place. Yangyang is 10 km downhill from Rabongla.
NAMCHI MONASTERY (1684 A.D)
Namchi Ngadak monastery is located in Namchi, the district headquarters of south district and belongs to the Nyingmapa Sect of Jhang -Ter Lineage. It was founded by a lineage holder of Ngadagpa lama called Jo Phalug Gelong in Wood Mouse Year of 11th Rabjung cycle corresponding to the year 1684 A.D on the site blessed by Ngadag Sempa Chenpo who entered Demazong via present Namchi.
KWEZING MONASTERY (1974 A.D)
This monastery is located near Kwezing in South Sikkim. It was built in 1974 A.D by the combined effort of Villagers and outside donors under the supervision of the dedicated lama locally known as Champo Norzang. The precious land for building Monastery was donated by the Villager Antsho Mondal.
SIMIG MONASTERY (1843 A.D)
This monastery is situated near Singtam town. It was founded by Saint Ralchen Wosel Dorjee in 1843 A.D.
HEE GYATHANG MONASTERY (1914 A.D)
Hee Gyathang monastery is located in Uper Dzongu, Noth Sikkim and follows the Nyingma sect of Buddhism.
LINGTEM MONASTERY (1857 A.D)
This monastery is located in the Dzongu area of North Sikkim and was established by Lepcha Buddhist as a branch Monastery of Pemayangtshe Monastery during the reign of Chogyal Tsugphud Namgyal.
PHENSANG MONASTERY (1721A.D)
Phensang monastery is located near Phensang which is on the highway between Gangtok and Mangan and follows Nyingmapa Sect of Buddhism.
RINAK MONASTERY (1841 A.D)
Rinak monastery is located about 63 kms from Gangtok. It was founded by Saint Konchog Gyaltshen as a small Shrine and his lineage holder later on re -established it in its present site in 1841 A.D. This Monastery follows Bhara Kagyu lineage of the Drukpa Kagyu and this Monastery in earlier times use to seek spiritual guidance from Late Kagyu Tulku who was regarded as the spiritual head of this sect.
KHATOK MONASTERY (1840 A.D)
Kathok Monastery is located above Pakyong Bazar in East Sikkim. Saint Kathok Kuntu Zangpo, one of the three pioneer lamas who played part in the coronation of first religious king "CHOGYAL"of Sikkim founded it in 1840 A.D
BERMOIK MONASTERY (1873 A.D)
Bermoik Monastery is situated in Bermoik, South Sikkim and follows Karma Kagyupa sect of Buddhism. It was built by the combined effort of Lamas and Laymen of the Village in 1873 A.D.
LACHEN MONASTERY (1974 A.D)
According to the legend Lachen Monastery is said to be founded at the begining of the 19th century as a hermitage founded by a Lama from Kham, Tibet, who came and settled here. The Lama was an accomplished master and when he was criticised for getting married, he is said to have demonstrated his power by leaving a footprint on a stone slab, which is presently kept at Lachen Monastery.
LACHUNG MONASTERY (1850 A.D)
Lachung Monastery is situated at Lachung Village, North Sikkim and was built in1850. It follows Nyingmapa Sects of Buddhism.
RALONG MONASTERY (1730 A.D)
Ralong monastery is situated at Ralong village near Rabongla in South Sikkim. It is a first Monastery of KAGYUPA lineage built by Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal in 1730 A.D
Mingma! Julay!namestey! hope you are in good health. Sorry to write you lately. Our trip to Thiland made us busy so we were unable to write you back. Mingma the trekking was well organised and I had a wonderful time with you.. . Ladhak is a wonderful place and your guiding made it much much better. We all are very happy and eager to visit your country sikkim next time.
The way you describe sikkim, it really seems to be a nice place. We will promote for you wherever we go. Thanks for your support when the chips were down..
Convey our regards to Jigmee,Arun and Horse man. Hope we will meet then again. Harry,Dorris Michael and Gracy Switzerland 2009
Max, hope you are doing fine business. We are thankful for your warm guidance and wonderful trekking arrangements in a short time. Mingma the food was excellent. We will return to sikkim with friends and family someday. We would no doubt recommend your company mountain tours and treks to all of our friends who want to visit India and specially sikkim and Darjeeling. Adam and wanda Netherland. 2010
Mingma, thanks for your mail. We are still in kerela and doing familiarization trip. Its very hot out here. Mingma your trekking arrangements was good and we had no hesitation in recommending your company. Your guide and cook was very good. We had more than enough varieties of food everyday. We surely hope that you will do well.
Well take care and best of luck Andrew, Roben and David Switzerland 2011 feb