After our arrival at Gangtok on 15th March'09 we decided to acclamatise ourselves to high altitude before we are set for Gurudogmar at17800 feet. We undertook the tour of Rumtek Monastry.
Dharma Chakra Centre, or Rumtek Monastery, is one of the most important seats of the Kagyu lineage outside Tibet. In the early 1960's, His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa founded this seat near the 300 year old Kagyu monastery built in the sixteenth century by the Fourth King of Sikkim under the guidance of the ninth Karmapa. The new Rumtek monastery was built about two kilometers away from this old monastery.
Rumtek became the International Kagyu Headquarters during the life of His Holiness, from where lineage activities manifested throughout the world. It also became the residence of a new generation of Kagyu masters, who are being trained in a tradition of study and meditation practice which began 800 years ago.
Dharma Chakra Center, known as the Rumtek Monastery, is located in eastern Sikkim, 24 kilometers away from Gangtok, the capital of the Sikkim, India. Rumtek is situated at an altitude of about 5800 ft (1,547 metres); the temperature in Summer is between a maximum of 20.7 and minimum of 13.1 (deg.C°.); in Winter, maximum 14.9 / minimum 7.7. The best season to visit, in terms of weather, is March to late May, or from October to mid-December. The following languages are spoken in the area: Sikkimese, Pahari (the local Nepalese dialect), Hindi, Tibetan and English.In 1959, His Holiness the Sixteen Gyalwa Karmapa fled Tibet after the communist Chinese invasion. After arriving in Bhutan, he received a formal invitation from the Choegyal (Dharma King) of Sikkim. The Choegyal Tashi Namgyal and royal family of Sikkim had a long-standing connection with the successive lines of Karmapas. The royal family eventually decided to offer permanent residence for His Holiness and his party in Sikkim. His Holiness accepted the Choegyal's invitation to set up his main exile seat in Sikkim.
The Karmapa arrives in Sikkim
His Holiness and the party arrived in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, on the twenty-fifth day of the fourth month of the earth pig year (1959).
Of the several sites proposed by Choegyal Tashi Namgyal, H.H. Karmapa chose to settle at Rumtek area, an hour's drive from the capital. The site possessed many auspicious qualities and was surrounded by the most favorable attributes, such as the flowing streams, mountains behind, a snow range in front, a river below, and many others. His Holiness Karmapa had a clear vision in his enlightened mind that he must take full responsibility for the preservation and revitalization of the Tibetan buddhist teachings in general and Kagyu lineage in particular.
Rumtek was the site of a monastery built by the ninth Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje, and the old monastery was still standing. Indeed, the Karmapas have a long and storied connection to Sikkim. In the latter half of the Sixteenth Century A.D., the ninth Karmapa had been invited by the King of Sikkim to build monasteries, one of which was established by the Kagyu in Rumtek. The Kagyu order maintained strong ties to Sikkim for many centuries.
After the current Choegyal's reprise of his Sixteenth Century predecessor's offer, Karmapa and his party immediately departed for Rumtek, arriving on the fifth day of the fifth month of the earth pig year (1959). Rumtek at that time consisted of the old monastery built during the time of the ninth Karmapa, which was mostly in ruins and surrounded by dense jungle growth. The area was undeveloped and had no facilities for supporting the Karmapa and his party. Living conditions in the area were extremely difficult and hard. During this early period, His Holiness and his followers worked intensively to make the place habitable. For many years, His Holiness Karmapa, Rinpoches, lamas, monks and the lay community lived in temporary quarters. Meanwhile, His Holiness gathered resources to begin construction of new facilities to support his monastic seat and the lay people surrounding the monastery. Everyone worked with extreme exertion to fulfill the dream of establishing the seat and the community around it.
It's new attraction for Gangtok city. It takes passengers to the highest point of the Gangtok city in seven minutes. It accomodates 20-24 passengers. The fare is Rs.60 per head or about USD$1.5. You can truely enjoy the panaromiic view of this beautiful hill station. It takes you over city traffic in about 7 minutes, very enjoyable ( see video). It starts from three terminal, Deorali, Tashiling & Nam Nang.
Banjhakri Falls Energy Park.
THis place is at East Rank 4 kms from Gangtok city. Set amidst lush green valley spread over 2 acres. It is surrounded by trees and a mountain streem. It is one of the 7 or 10 seightseeing points of Gangtok. It is one of the most favourite place among the locals. Entrance fee is Rs.30/- for two persons. Nice place to relax.
We wanted to visit the palace of Chogyal the ruler of Sikkim but the car driver insisted it was not possible as it was not on the package. We left the vehicle at Lal Bazar as were very exhausted after trip to Rumtek Monastry.
Beauty of Gangtok City-I
The enchanting beauty of Gangtok city is everlasting, it does not have the natural beauty of Darjeeling but it hast created itself very very beautiful. Please look at the pictures closely and you will know what I mean! It's really beautiful.
Beauty of Gangtok City-II
In all the hill town of of North East India I have found women calling the shots or there is women empowerment. I was pleasantly surprised to find petite women as cops, bagpiper band, and in the seat of power. I also feel they make better cops as ecause they are less corrupt and mostly honest. Sikkim govt has taken steps to empower women in almost all the jobs men do or considered for men only. Bravo Sikkim govt!!
Kyongnosla Water Falls at 10400 Feet!!!
This beautiful waterfall is set at 10400 feet at Kyongnosla on the Nathula Pass - Gangtok highway. We were there for about half a hour and what we experienced can not be described in words! The clouds were below us travelling, making moves , sometimes engulfing us ..... hey we smelled clouds... believe me, really!!! It was really different than the air there very refreshing like light smoke!! o expereience this beauty, you have to be there personally !!! Yes.
- Family Travel
Beauty of Gangtok City-III
Life in every hill town surrounds arround their main throughfare or the Mall. In Gangtok, this too is true, their life evolves in M.G.Road. It houses lots of hotels, shopping malls, restaurants but now it has been made a no car zone and entire road has been paved, sitting arrangements made, fountains erected to make it more beautiful. It is also spotlessly clean, beautiful and ever inviting. We visited tghis place during day time and also during night all the time we found it very very clean and beautiful.
An important seat of the Nyingmapa order, the Enchey Monastry is built on the site blessed by Lama Druptok Karpo, a Tantrik Master known for his power of flying. This 200 years old monastry has in its premises images of God, Goddesses and other religious objects. Every year around January, " Chaam" or religious masked dance is performed with great fanfare for two days. It is situated closed to siniolchu tourist lodge, 3 kms from Gangtok city.
This is also one of the great training and learning centre for the Lamas( Priests or the Religious guy)
Tsomgo Lake : It is literally known as the "Source Of The Lake" in Bhutia language. Just about 40 kms away from Gangtok, the capital of the State, this serene lake is situated at an altitude of 3780 metre. The lake is about 1 km long. Oval in shape ,15 metres deep and is considered scared by the local people.This placid lake remains frozen during the winter months upto mid- May .
You can visit this lake..to do so u have to wake up early as the last jeep to leave Gangtok will be at 7 am...all the cabs will return around 1 pm from Tsomgo(Changu Lake)...tourist are not allowed to stay over no hotels at that place its a day visit destination...u can to to Nathula pass on certain days only so check before u head to Changu,the scenery is breathtaking..i literally felt why go to Switzerland when we have such places in india.......I have heard during spring the whole valley trrns red with rhodandron bloosoms.I went around late october so the place around the lake had received fresh snowfall and the wind was icy ...the feelinf is great....after nover i guess you cannot visit this place due to heavy snowfall.....so pls check.....
TSOMGO Lake or " The Source of Lake"
It literally means the " Source of the Lake" in Bhutia language. It is located 38ks from Gangtok. The serene lake is situated at an altitude of 12318 feet. It is about one km long, in oval shape, 15 mts deep and is considered Sacred by Local people. This placid lake remains frozen duing winter months ( November to February). Between May and August is also the blooming ground of variety of flowers and Rododendrons. It is also habitat of Red Panda and other species of birds. It is now open for foreigners and Indians as well. Foreign visitors have to be in a group of two or more to get the permit thru a registered travel agency.
We got snow all around on 17th April but it was melting. Please carry heavy wollens, caps, wind cheater as the temperature is below 0 degrees but the wind chill factor at this altitude can make you shiver and make you sick.
Usually the tour of Tsomgo lake is done with either clubbing Baba Mandir ( 17kms from Tsomgo Lake ) or visit to Nathu La pass ( Indo China Border on the silk route) but sometimes the drivers just refuge to go there as they want to save for fuel on the pretext ofthe road is closed due to heavy snow or I did not get permission from Indian Military, just it happened with us. We paid for the full journey but had to return from Tsomgo Lake only asthedriver wont just go! I checked with Commanding Officer of Indian Army there at Tsomgo camp, he said there is no problem and their vehicles are going freely. I told the driver then he changed his stance and said he has no permit to go there! Please check with your travel agent about the permit and permission as they sometimes dupe the tourist and spol your day! Fare : Rs200 upto Tsomgo Lake, Rs.250/- including Baba Mandir and Rs.400/- upto and including Nathu La Pass( USD$ 5 to 10) for entire journey. We complained on return, then the agent said the driver would be blacklisted but the driver maintained that he didnot get the permit. They are all hand in glove.
Do- Drul Chorten
The Do- Drul Chorten Stupa was built by the Venerable Trullshi Rimpoche, head of Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism in 1945. Inside the Stupa, there are compere mandala set of DORJEE PHURBA ( VAJRA kILAYA), a set of Kang Gyur relic( Holy Book), complete Zung ( Mantras) and other religious objetcs. Around the Chorten, there are 108 Mani Lhkar ( Prayer wheels). These are turned by devout Buddhist while chanting " Om Mane Padme Hum" ( O jewel in the Lotus) to invoke the Bodhisattva. It is surrounded by Chorten Lakhang and Guru Lakhang, where there are two huge statues of Guru Padmasamva.
Viewing of Mt.Kanchendzonga in early morninng!
On a clear morning Mt.Kachendzonga is visible from all parts of Gangtok. But I was not lucky enough, during my several past visits I missed this marvellous view. This time God did not deprive me and on the day of our return we could gaze her for about 1 hour from 5.30am to about 7.00a. But at 7.00 am it was quite hazy.
It was also not possible to capture her more clearly with my Canon 530 or Nikon S50C pocket digital camera using digital zoom from great distance. Someday, I hope to carry a SLR with ED zoom.
What I could see, was no less than a blessing. I took about 30-40 pictures.
- Family Travel
Time spent in a Monastery
Rumtek Monastery is situated on a hillside opposite the town of Gangtok. A Buddhist monastery might be the last place that you would expect to find Sourbugger, but you would be wrong.
I spent a few days living here, attending prayers and generally trying to get an understanding of the life of a Buddhist community. It was the longest I have ever been in my adult life without any chance of eating meat, drinking booze or getting some legover.
I took a shared taxi over from the main town, which was crammed with teenage Buddhist monks. They (as far as I could work out from the broken English) were about halfway through their six-month stint at the Monastery. Their families expected them to this as part of their tranformation into manhood, but at the end of the six months they all felt they would return to the obsessions of most teenage men - women, music and beer. As we approached the place, the taxi-driver turned down the volume on his stereo. At the time it was playing a gangsta rap track about someone who apparantly wanted to fill several people who wished to sleep with their mother with lead.
During my stay there, I came across a practical example of Buddhist teachings at work. Two younger monks (about aged 7 or 8) were playing on the short slope approaching Rumtek. They had a pair of roller skates between them. Nothing unusual about this you might think. Now, just about anywhere else one boy would use them for a while, until the other one whinged enough to have ago - or fought his freind for them. Here, they had a different compromise - one roller skate each ! It was certainly equitable, but made the act of roller-skating a damned difficult act !
- Religious Travel
The Must do thing in Gangtok is visiting the Nathula Border.. This was intially known as the Old Silk Route of Indo China... It is different feeling altogether as it is completely snow capped.There is a small Indian post office on one side and a chinese border post diagonally opposite.. The border is nothing but a barbed wire ... En route to this place is also a Lake called Tsomgo Lake which is quite breathtaking... U can take a Yak ride at this lake if u please....
- Family Travel
24 kms from Gangtok, a drive through beautiful countryside takes one to Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre built in 1960's by His Holiness the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa when he took refuge in Sikkim after the Chinese attack. It is an excellent replica of the original Kagyu headquarters in Tibet. It houses some of the world's most unique art objects, ancient manuscripts and icons. About 2 kms away from Dharma Chakra Centre is the recently 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 Centre.
How to Reach: By Air and road - The airport at Bagdogra is the nearest one to reach Sikkim . Helicopter service to and from Gangtok and Bagdogra are available daily. From Bagdogra airport, taxis are also available to transfer you to Gangtok.By Rail - New Jalpaiguri is the nearest railhead.
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