Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries and Sikkim Essay

Sikkim Sikkim is a wonderland in the bosom of Eastern Himalayas with its avant garde surroundings and spectacular tableau. The Shangrila, the Mt. Kanchenjunga makes Sikkim a charming land representing a concoction of Buddhism and Tibetology. With Buddhism predominant in the state you will see many monasteries and ruby clad monks here. For you, the nature lovers, the state has eminent orchids sanctuary where 500 indigenous species of orchids are found. An adventure tour in Sikkim has many druthers for adventurers.

On your way to trekking you will witness many quaint dales and mountain lakes. A base for mountaineering expeditions the rivers of Teesta and Rangeet are superb for river rafting. How to Reach Sikkim By Air : The nearest airport Bagdogra, near Siliguri in West Bengal, is connected by air to New Delhi, Kolkata and Guawahati. You can also commute by helicopter to Sikkim. By Rail: Siliguri (114 kms) and New Jalpaiguri (125 kms) are the two closest railway stations connecting Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati and other important cities in India with Sikkim.

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By Road: The state is connected by road to Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri and also to all the District Headquarters within Sikkim. Also a bus service is offered by The Sikkim Nationalized Transport (SNT) from all major cities and towns in North Bengal to Gangtok. Book a tour to Sikkim Entry Formalities: A 15 day Restricted Area Permit is required for the Foreign tourists and Indians do not require any special permit for entering the state except for some restricted areas. Fact File Capital: Gangtok

Altitude: 5,500ft. Area: 7,096sq. kms. Climate: Summer: Maximum temperature: 21 Degree C, min 13 Degree C Winter: Maximum temperature: 13 Degree C, min 0. 48 Degree C. Clothing: Summer: Light woolens & cottons Winter: Heavy Woolens Religion: Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and other religion are also practiced. Language Spoken : Nepali, Hindi, English, Bhutia, Lepcha, Limboo Best season to visit: To enjoy a Jeep Safari and culture tours, the best period is March to mid – June and October to December.

January to February is very cold with snowfall in North Sikkim thereby best for enjoying snow fall. For trekking the best time is spring, summer and autumn coinciding with March to May and October to November. Cities of Sikkim Gangtok: The city is substantiation of “Unity in Diversity” with an admix of various cultures and religions existing in this small and beautiful city at the backdrop of Ranipool River. Gangtok has a ecumenical essence with primitive charm and hospitality allowing a pinch of advancement and adoption of modernization.

The major tourist attractions in the city are Rumtek Dharma Chakra Center, Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden, Tsomgo/ Changu Lake, Menmecho Lake, Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies, Mahatma Gandhi Marg (a shopper’s delight), Labrang Monastery, Enchey Monastery, Tsulakhang Royal, Deer Park / Rustomji Park, Kechopari Lake (wishing lake) and Phurchachu Reshi Hot Springs. Pelling: The city derives its name from Pemalingpa monastery. The plush view of Mt. Kanchenjunga, clamorous waterfalls and thick woods make the city a hot destination for tourism.

Among the famous waterfalls are Kanchenjunga Falls, Changay Falls (on Sing Shore Bridge), Phamrong Falls and Rimbi Falls. The major tourist attractions in the city are Pemayangtse Monastery, Sangacholing Monastery, Rabdentse Ruins, Khecheopalri Lake, Tashiding Monastery and Singshore Suspension Bridge. Yuksom: This exotic village has alluring mountain peaks and is base for Khanchendzonga National Park trek, Dzongri or Goechala Pass. The Heritage site, Coronation Throne, Dubdi Monastery, Tendong Hill, Ravangla, Menam Hill, Borong, Versey, Namchi, Temi Tea Garden, Water Garden, Tsomgo Lake and Tashi View Point is worth visiting here.

Gezing: Gyalshing or Gezing, as it is also called, is a enjoyable town distinctive with its moderate temperature. The ancient town of Yuksom is in close vicinity to the city. You can also enjoy Pemyangtse monastery, Khecheopalri Lake and The Palace of the Chogyals. Jorethang: A major business center in south Sikkim is also famous for the festivals celebrated here with great fervor. This city is a division between Sikkim and West Bengal. The town is manifestation of diverse cultures and religions. Mangan: The district headquarters of North Sikkim is a small village with exquisite flora and fauna and miniature gardens.

You will enjoy seeing the spectacular view of mount Siniolchu (a range of mount Kanchenjunga) and worth visit are Phensong and Phodong Monastery. Namchi: The headquarters of the South Sikkim is an embodiment of beauty and splendor. Tourists are attracted to this place for the immense pleasure it offers. This “Sky High” place has many places for enjoying like Tendong Hill, Temi Tea Garden, Samdrupste, Helipad, Doling Gumpa, Rock Garden, Namchi Monastery. Kalimpong: This beautiful hill station is ideal for relaxing vacations.

It has many places that attract hordes of tourists like Thongsha Gompa, Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Monastery, Tharpa Choling Monastery, Nature Interpretation Centre, Mangal Dhaam, Colonial Bungalows, Dr. Graham’s Homes Campus, Kalimpong Arts and Crafts centre, Dharmodaya Vihar, Kali Mandir, Gauri Pur House. There are some panoramic snow views of Kanchenjunga, Siniolchu, Paunhari, Lama Anden, Chola, Nathu La, Jalep La and Gymochen peaks from Durpin Dara and Deolo View Point, Lava, Lolaygaon, Rikkisum Pedong and Rishap are also equally beautiful.

Book a tour to Sikkim Adventure Sports in Sikkim Trekking in Sikkim Trekking in Sikkim will a lifetime experience for the trekkers with so enthralling and enchanting treks. The unstained enormous expanses entice the trekkers for that amazing expedition. Steal a moment from the time on your expedition, behold the pristine beauty of flora and fauna and experience the awe of nature’s craft. One such trek to the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary takes you through jungles of silver fir, hemlock, magnolia and rhododendron. Adding to the charm is the view of Kanchenjunga.

Enjoy your trekking on the most popular trek of The Dzongri – Goecha La Trek encountering lavish mountain vistas and floral carnival in summers, and exotic birds and dense forests. Some popular treks of Sikkim are Monastic Trek, Rhododendron Trek, Khangchendzonga Trek, Coronation Trek, Khedi Trek, Singalila Trek, Kosturi Orar Trek, Samartek Trek, Rinchenpong/Soreng Trek, Himalayan Trek, Tosha Lake Trek, Chewabanjyang Trek, Meanam Hill Trek and Tendong Hill Trek. Trekking on one or all treks will a memeorable experience for the trekkers.

River Rafting in Sikkim For the adventure junkies there are placid and gentle water bodies and those torrential and tumultuous ones also. A river rafting expedition, wavering through the rough and rugged mountain regions, in the amazing Teesta will be an awesome experience. The wood land around the riverbanks, the harvests in bloom, the scattered villages are all expecting your visit. Kayaking in Sikkim If you are a bit experienced then this adventure is just for you. Take a kayak and challenge the currents of turbulent river.

Enjoy a kayaking expedition in a group on Teesta river. Mountain Biking in Sikkim There are multiple alternatives for you to start your Mountain Biking Expedition in the state. Take the bike and get going to either a technical mountain biking experience or on other routes that offer great landscape to ride through. Some biking routes of the state are as: * Gangtok – Rumtek – Sang – Sirwani – Temi – Damthang – Rabong – Kewzing – Tashiding – Yoksum – Geyzing – Dentam – Rinchenpong – Soreng – Sombaria – Jorthang – Namchi – Rangpo. Gangtok – Phodong – Rangrang – Dikchu – Makha – Sirwani – Temi * Gangtok – Rumtek – Sang – Sirwani – Temi – Namchi – Jorthang – Melli * Gangtok – Rumtek – Sang – Sirwani – Temi – Namchi – Namthang – Rangpo Mountaineering in Sikkim The land of Sikkim is bestowed with mighty Himalayas. The adventurers try to challenge the towering cliffs of the mountains. Jopuno, Tinchenkhang, Frey’s Peak, Lamo Angden and Byrmkhangse are the popular peaks of Sikkim attract many adventure freaks. Obtain a permit for mountaineering on these peaks and experience that high ecstasy.

May to October is the best time for mountaineering in Sikkim. Yak Riding in Sikkim You can enjoy a yak safari in the state which is sure to make you experience utter excitement. The vibrant colored yaks clad in woolen knitwear on the horns and forehead, the bells hung round the neck, are all set to take to you to mountains or a lake. Dzongiri and Tsomgo Lake trek are the most popular trek for yak safari. Behold the beauty of Sikkim during your yak safari. Book a tour to Sikkim Hang Gliding in Sikkim

For every human there has been a fascinating temptation to fly high like a liberal bird. This is possible. Yes ! Hang Gliding will make you soar high in the blue celestial. Without any obstacle in your way you can just have fun flying and trying to touch the sky apparently at a hand stretch. Bird Watching in Sikkim For those who love watching and admiring birds in their natural environs Sikkim would be a great place. As the state is rich in flora and fauna, it is an eden for naturalists and tourists. The avian population is upto 550 species.

With varying temperature zones, from tropical hot valleys to snowy cold regions, the place shelters many rare and exquisite birds like Silver Fir, hemlocks, magnolia, Rhododendrons, Maroon-Backed Accentor, Red-faced Liocichla, migrant ducks, Black-necked Crane, Black-tailed Crane, Blood Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Brown Parotbill, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Cutia, Sapphire flycatcher, White browned Bush Robin, Grandala, Rufous – breasted Accentors, White winged and collared Grosbeaks and Spot-winged Rosefinch. Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks in Sikkim

As the state has moderate temperature it furnishes natural habitat for the wilds, the untamed and the docile. There are many National Parks and Sanctuaries that provide a dwelling for these animals. Some of the Parks and Sanctuaries are as Khangchendzonga National Park, Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, Singba Rhododendron Sanctuary, Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary, Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary and Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary. Monasteries in Sikkim Guru Padmasambhava, the great Buddhist saint who visited Sikkim in the 8th century had blessed the state to extract all the negativities from the place.

Ever Since then Buddhism is all predominant in the state. Many Monasteries stand a witness to the Buddhist cult of society. The gompas in the state preserve the ancient Tibetan manuscripts, exquisitely carved wood work and icons of silver and gold. Among the famous monasteries in Sikkim some are: Rumtek Monastery: This is the most enshrined monastery located in East Sikkim. The monastery is a reservoir for the relics (the possessions of the 16th Karmapa), Retreat Center, ‘Shedra’ (monastic college), Nunnery, Stupas (protector’s shrine).

Pemayangtse Monastery: This monastery of Nyingma sect of Buddhists is located in West Sikkim and provides a magnificent view of Mt. Kanchenjunga. The main attraction here is the Sculpted painting of ‘Sangthopalri’. Enchey Monastery: This religious site of Nyingma sect of Buddhists is located in East Sikkim. The name of the monastery literally means “Solitary Temple” . This monastery also nestles prehistoric idols and images of Gods, Goddesses and other religious things. Buddha, Loki Sharia and Guru Padmasambhava are worshiped here. Tsuk La Khang Monastery:It is the sovereign gompa of the erstwhile Royal family of Sikkim.

A major place of worship and assembly for the Buddhists. The two-storeyed monastery is the storekeep of collected works of Buddhist scriptures. Labrang Monastery: This leading monastery of the state is located in North Sikkim. Gyalshe Rigzing Chempa made this monastery built to to commemorate Latsun Chembo of Kongpu who initiated and propagated Nyingmapa School of Tibetan Buddhism. The name of the monastery literally means “The Lamas Dwelling”. Phensang Monastery: This monastery of Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism is located in North Sikkim and is famous for the annual festival held in December.

People are amused by the ‘Chaam’ (mask dance) dance performances of the Lamas. People come to this monastery to pay homage year after year. Phodong Monastery: Deemed as the first monastery of Kagyupa sect in Sikkim, this is situated in North Sikkim on a hill top. This most monastery of Sikkim was built by Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal. Here also a annual festival is celebrated where Chaam is performed. Book a tour to Sikkim Ralang Monastery: This legendary monastery of Sikkim is the most significant and most revered one.

Located in South Sikkim the prime attraction of this monastery is the wonderful agglomeration of paintings and ‘Pang Lhabsol’ festival. Tashiding Monastery: This monastery located in the West Sikkim was erected by Ngadak Sempa Chembo. The main attraction of the monastery is the sacred chorten (stupa) known by the name of ‘Thong-Wa-rang-Dol’ which literally means ‘Saviors by mere sight’. As per beliefs, the very sight of the stupa purges away the sins. The monastery has Buddhist Mantras, old edifices, stupas and stone plates. Celebration of ‘Bumchu’ adds to the charm of this monastery. Tourist Spots in Sikkim

Tourists are attracted to Sikkim for the cherished beauty and serenity of the place. There are many spots for tourists in North, South , East and West Sikkim. North Sikkim In North Sikkim tourists can enjoy seeing Mangan (the capital of North Sikkim famous for the Phensong and Phodong Monastery), Kabi Longtsok (the place where Sikkimese history incepted), Phodong Monastery, Singhik (offering a picturesque view of Mt. Kanchenjunga and its adjoining peaks), Chungthang Monastery, Lachen (base for mountaineering and trekking expeditions), Yumthang Valley, Chungthang, Lachung, Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, Thangu, Gurudongmar and Chopta Valley.

South Sikkim In South Sikkim you can enjoy Namchi (the capital of South Sikkim), Ravangla (an ideal destination for village tourism, tea gardens, monasteries, flora and fauna, mountains picturesque view, waterfalls, quaint villages, culture), Temi Tea Garden, Tendong Hill and Maenam Hill. East Sikkim If you are in East Sikkim do not miss out Government Institute of Cottage Industry, Do-Drul Chorten (Stupa), Deer Park (Rustomji Park), White Hall, Enchey Monastery, Tashi View Point, Ganesh Tok (temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha), Hanuman Tok (temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman). West Sikkim

In West Sikkim do check out Gyalshing (Geyzing the headquarter of West Sikkim), Pemayangtse Monastery, Yuksom (the ancient capital of Sikkim), Tashiding Monastery, Pelling, Khecheopalri Lake, Uttaray, Versay, Barshey , Biksthang, Legship, Rinchenpong, Reshi Hot Springs, Rabdentse and Norbhugang. Shopping in Sikkim Sikkim is a good spot for shopping freaks. Just know where and what to get hold of, and your shopping will be complete fun. The land is proud of its traditional arts and crafts that may allures you to posses them at random. Exploring the state for the local assets will be pleasurable thing to do.

Gangtok has The Old Market, Lall Market, M. G. Road, Gangtok Market, Gramin Vikas Agency and New Market which are the main shopping places, where you can shop the aristocratic articles of Sikkim. While treasuring a memento on your trip to Sikkim, do not forget to bargain with the shopkeepers, who generally quote higher price tags. Else go to the Tibetan Handicrafts Centre which is a trusted name to shop in Sikkim. The not-so-good bargainers can go to Government Emporiums, where they will get right price as well as quality assurance. Book a tour to Sikkim

In the local markets check out for Woven Woolen Carpets and Blankets, Thangkas – traditional paintings on cotton canvas and often framed with silk, Choksee or small wooden tables, Sweaters and Jackets, Wall Hanging and Antiques with Buddhist motifs, Wooden and Bamboo Artifacts, Jewelery, Sikkim Tea (‘Solja’ and Khangchendzonga’) Cardamom or Elachi, Yak’s cheese (chhurpi), Lepcha Weave bags, in addition to the Tibetan and Sikkemese Garments. Culture of Sikkim People The three ethnic groups of people represent a synthesis of three diverse cultures, traditions, religions in Sikkim.

These communities of Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalese are a analogous interfusion with their distinct identity. If there is a temple, there is also a mosque, if there is a monastery there is also a church. Lepchas are deemed as the primitive inhabitants of Sikkim much before even the existence of Bhutias and Nepalese. The earlier Lepchas believed in bone faith or mune faith based on good and bad spirits of mountains, rivers and forests but later adopted Buddhism and Christianity. The Lepcha folklore abounds in stories with a simple lifestyle. They speak Lepcha language and are basically limited to the central Sikkim.

The Lepcha men wear “Pagi” a stripped dress made of cotton whereas Lepcha women wear two piece dress. Lepchas allow polyandry marriages. A house of a Lepcha is nothing more than a bamboo hut elevated about five feet above the ground on stilts. The rooms are less in number with a few essentials. Their main occupation is fishing and hunting. Lepchas are good archers. Bhutias are the people originally from Kham area in the Eastern Tibet who follow Lamanism and their lingua franca is Sikkimese language, a dialect of the Tibetan Language. They are called Lachenpas and Lachungpas in the North Sikkim.

Bhutia villages are large in size as comapred to the those of Lepchas. “Khin”, a Bhutia house, is rectangular in shape. The Bhutia men wear “Bakhu”, a traditional loose cloak style dress with full sleeves. And the Bhutia women dote on pure gold jewelery and are clad in a silken “Honju”, a full sleeve blouse and a loose gown in style fastened with a belt near the waist. “Pangdin” a loose sheet of vibrant woolen cloth with special motifs denotes the marital status of the lady. A Bhutia marriage is settled through negotiations. The boy’s uncle goes to the girl’s house to ask for her hand for marriage of his nephew.

Nepalese are the main residents of the state who migrated after Lepchas and Bhutias. The terrace farming style of cultivation and production of cardamom was introduced by these people. Except Sherpas and Tamangs who are Buddhists, other people are basically Hindu. Newars is that sect of people of people whose occupation is business. Nepali, which is akin to Hindi and uses Devanagri script, is spoken and understood by people over the state. Nepali men wear “Daura Suruwal”, a long double breast traditional dress flowing below the waist with a trouser. The Nepali women wear “Chow Bandi Choli”, a double breasted outfit and a shawl “Majetro”.

Several tribes, like the Gurungs, Limbus, Tamangs and Rais, comprise the Nepali community. Festivals Of Sikkim The state celebrates many festivals because of admix of various religion and cultures. These Festivals are classified as : Buddhist Festivals:The famous Buddhist festivals are Saga Dawa (the Triple Blessed Festival and is considered as the holiest of the holy Buddhist Festivals), Lhabab Dhuechen (symbolizing the Descent of Buddha from the heaven), Drukpa Tsheshi (o mark the event when Buddha first turned the Wheel of Dharma ), Phang Lhabsol (popularised by the third Chogyal of Sikkim,

Chakdor Namgyal and celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th month around the end of August), Losoong (marks the culmination of harvest season), Losar (the advent of New Year), Bumchu (celebrated at the monastery at Tashiding in the month of January or February), Guru Rimpoche’s Trungkar Tshechu, Kagyed Dance (performed on the 28th and 29th day of the 10th month of the Tibetan Calendar, around December) and KalChakra Puja.

Hindu Festivals: The popular festivals of Hindus are Dasain/ Dusshera/ Durga Puja (usually celebrated in October symbolizing the victory of good over evil), Tihar or Tyohar/ Diwali (celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama, his consort Sita and brother Lakshmana, to their kingdom after 14 years of exile), Saraswati Puja (celebrated in January to honor the Goddess of Knowledge Saraswati), Janamashtami (celebrated in August or September to commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna), Vishwakarma Puja (observed on 17th September every year to honour Vishwa Karma – the God of Machines), Maghe Sankranti (Makar Sankranti celebrated in January), Holi (marks the advent of spring season) and Ramnavami /Chaite Dasain (to commemorate birth of Lord Ram). Book a tour to Sikkim Other Festivals: Namsoong (an Indigenous festival of Lepchas to welcome the new year which begins from the first day of first month), Sakewa ( festival of the Rai community for Kubera, the God of wealth), Bhanu Jayanti, Tendong Lho-Rum-Faat (a Lepcha thanks giving festival to Tendong Hill), Teyongsi Srijunga Sawan Tognam, Christmas, Tamu Lochar and Nyempa Guzom. Dance And Music Of Sikkim The communities have their own traditional folk dance forms. The Nepalese, the Lepchas and the Sikkimese have unique folk dances, each different and each amusingly groovy.

Folk Dances of Nepali: Maruni: One of the oldest and most popular dances of the Nepalese associated with the festival of Tihar(Tyohar) or Diwali and various ceremonies and occasions. Tamang Selo: Performed on occasions like marriage ceremony, childbirth and village fairs with the rhythmic sound of the “Damphoo”, a musical instrument. Dhaan Naach: A projection of rich Nepali cultural heritage. Dau Ra JaneZo-Mal-Lok: It is performed during the happy ceremonies by the young girls in their traditional and vibrant outfits. Sebru Naach: It is a narration of the lifestyle of the Sherpas who are very fond of performing arts like dance and songs. Folk Dances of Lepcha

Zo-Mal-Lok: A depiction of sowing, reaping and harvesting of paddy. Chu Faat: It is is performed in honour of the Mount Khangchendzonga and its four associate peaks, Mt. Pandim, Mt. Kabru, Mt. Simbrum and Mt. Narshing. Kar Gnok Lok: This “Dance of Swans” is a depiction of tarriance of a group of migratory swans. Dharma Jo: It depicts the harvest season among Lepchas. Mon Dryak Loks: A hunting dance for the supposedly adept hunters. Tendong Lho Faat: A folklore retold to the new generation corresponding the divine events in Vedas. Mun Hait Lok: A traditional dance by both Lepcha men and women. Folk Dances of Sikkimese Talachi: The dance is accompanied with a folklore related to a king.

Lu Khangthamo: This dance is a day of thanks giving to all Gods and deities of the three worlds, Heaven, Earth and Hell. Gha To Kito: This is a song cum dance which describes all about the treasures of Sikkim. Be Yu Mista: Males and females perform to applaud Sikkim in this dance form. Chi Rimu: A much popular dance for happy events and ceremonies performed by old and young. Rechungma: It is performed on the happy occasions like childbirth, marriage and other social gatherings. Gnungmala Gnunghey: It is a typical Bhutia fold dance performed in praise, by both male and female Tashi Zaldha: This dance depicts the Bhutia custom of offering scarves, performed by boys and girls. Book a tour to Sikkim Mask Dances

Enchey Chaam: A famous mask dance performed by lamas in the ‘Gompa’ courtyard to celebrate religious festivals, dances demonstrate perfect footwork and grace. Rumtek Chaam: The most important dance performed on the 10th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar, corresponding to the month of June. Kagyed Dance: A symbolism of the destruction of the evil forces and hoping for peace and prosperity to flourish in every Sikkimese home, it is performed on the 28th and 29th day of the 10th month of the Tibetan Calendar, around December. Gouthor(Winter) Chaam: This is performed in the month of February usually two days prior to Losar. Shopping in Sikkim Shopping in Sikkim is a delightful experience. Buy some exquisite items in Sikkim and make your Sikkim tour complete. |


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