Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monastic Mountains of Sikkim

Visiting Himalayan Mountains is always a beautiful experience. Their culture, lifestyle, religion and beliefs are completely different compared to the non-mountain regions. They believe a lot in 'nature' and they protect mother nature all the time. That is the reason we see flags everywhere on these mountains. They write their prayers on those flags and they tag them everywhere so that when the wind blows, the prayers are spread all across the mountains. This is a common sight all across the Himalayan Mountains. Its the land of monks and monasteries. I visited many monasteries last year in Nepal and it was a beautiful experience. 

Sikkim is also a land of hundreds of monasteries. Sikkim is supposed to have more than 200 monasteries in its tiny geographical area. Sikkim's second-largest religion is Buddhism, which accounts for 28.1% of the population. We visited a couple of beautiful monasteries on those mountains. 

Prayer wheels everywhere

Its the monks land

Prayer flags blowing the prayers written on them all the time across the mountains and valleys

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. It houses some of the worlds most unique art objects, ancient manuscripts and icons. It is located at an altitude of 1500m and is currently the largest monastery in Sikkim. It is home to the community of monks and where they perform the rituals and practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage. A Golden Stupa contains the relics of the 16th Karmapa. Opposite that building is a college, Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies. Monasteries in the Himalayan region of Sikkim, India, Nepal, and Bhutan were asked to send two monks each to study at the institute. When they completed their studies, they would return to their monasteries to teach, or stay to assist in the work at KSNI.

The Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim

Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim

Colorful walls, windows and pillars at the Rumtek Monastery

A colorful door at the Rumtek Monastery
Ranka Monastery / Lingdum Monastery

Visit to this monastery was most beautiful. This is a very peaceful place and one can spend more time photographing or just going around the place. At the entrance there is a long line of prayer wheels and is customary spinning these prayer wheels out there. The set up is so beautiful that the huge valleys look magical as a backdrop to this place. 

The peaceful Ranka or Lingdum Monastery, Sikkim

Monk kids having some fun time at the monastery

The entry to the Ranka Monastery

These were seen on every corner of the building

Ranka Monastery looking West with the back drop of huge valleys

Viewing south from the Ranka Monastery

(click on the pictures to enlarge them)

Copyright 2012, Srikanth Parthasarathy

2 comments:

MEROPS said...

The monasteries are so colorful.. so beautiful ! :)

Narasim said...

Great photographs of landscape and monasteries.

The Prayer Flags with green vegetation look fantastic. There is something magical about it.

It is good to know that Rumtek Monastery is quite well off materially. People are catching up to Tirupathy all over India.