Missing out Rumtek Monastery would be like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower…
It’s a bit of an early start to get to Rumtek Monastery, probably the most important monastery in Sikkim. If you don’t visit it, it’s like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower. Rumtek was built as the historical seat for the third highest monk of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa, who is essentially the equivalent of the Dalai Lama in importance. Spread over three levels, it’s decorated with hand-painted murals, sculptured icons and a golden stupa containing the ashes of the 16th Karmapa. Outside is lovely too with views of the forested mountains.
After some time here we drive back to Gangtok stopping at the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology started by the 11th King of Sikkim who prioritised the preservation of everything to do with Tibetan culture and literature. It houses one of the largest collections of Tibetan works including iconography and religious art from as early as the 6th century. After lunch in town, we visit the Enchey Monastery, the oldest in Gangtok. It’s nestled in a beautiful location at the top of a hill. The stupa there is about 18 metres high. You can also meet the Buddhist nuns which is quite interesting as it’s rare to see women in that position.
Not only are the landmarks in Gangtok fascinating but the area is beautiful to explore especially when the rhododendrons among other flowers are in bloom. We tailor every excursion to your needs, but I’d suggest taking your time, seeing a few places but in depth. That way you learn more about the culture.