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Rumtek, Ah!

INDIA | Friday, 27 April 2007 | Views [857] | Comments [1]

I am back in rainy Darjeeling after 3 days in Sikkim visiting Rumtek Monastery.

Sikkim is a tiny state (Isolated Buddhist Kingdom until annexed by India in 1975) that lies just south of Tibet and in between Nepal to the West and Bhutan to the East. As the jeep crossed the border from West Bengal and after I had my permits in order, we were off driving through the lush deep valleys toward the hill town of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. A sprawling city built along the mountain ridges and much to my delight clean! There are laws against littering as well as several “noise free zones” within the city, I then took another shared jeep out to Rumtek, The seat of the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa. Two words,

Awe inspiring.

Just inside the main gate, one must present a passport and Sikkim permit to two armed guards. When you finally make it up to the Monastery itself, you are again greeted by Soldiers with machine guns and are asked to walk through a metal detector. A little weird at first and a reminder that the current Karmapa has still not been granted permission by the Indian government to visit Sikkim and assume his seat. The main gompa is magnificent and holds a beautiful throne as well as seats for The heart sons. Just behind it is Karma Shri Nalanda Institute of Buddhist studies where the shedra lasts 9 years with an optional isolated 3 year retreat. Near the top floor is a shrine room with large golden figures of the 16th Karmapa, Sakyamuni Buddha and Manjushri. As well as a large and ornate seat for the Karmapa. It seems like they expect him there any day and it was wonderful to see that no one seemed discouraged by his absence. Next I visited the Golden stupa, which contains the remains of His Holiness the 16th  Karmapa,. It is amazing and studded with turquoise and coral; surrounded on all sides with statues of the previous 16 Karmapas.  Directly behind is a large statue of Dorje Chang, as well as statues of Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa and Milarepa.

Rumtek is high in the clouds and the days were misty and warm…dreamlike. I didn’t want to leave! It was a wonderful trip and now I have a burning desire to see more of Sikkim before I leave here as well as before it becomes touristy. Much of it is off limits to Westerners still.

So, back in Darjeeling and studying hard with a new tutor. The weather has officially gotten to me and I am happy that I will be leaving in 3 weeks, but feel pressure to learn as much as I can! Meanwhile I have been denied my scholarship application for the Translator Program in Seattle in July. I will do a fundraising to try to raise the funds to go, so will be selecting 4 of my photos, and making them available for sale as digital prints ( I WILL SEND OUT AN EMAIL NEXT WEEK WITH DETAILS) I am also taking orders for the most amazing handmade Tibetan incense from Kalimpong. If you or any one you know might be interested in purchasing some photos to help with my studies, please have a look/send a link to  the web galleries on this site as well as my “still work in progress” web-site http:// www.awanderingeye.com

I look forward to hearing from you and better yet seeing you soon as I will be back in San Francisco the second week of June.



Tags: Sightseeing



I am hoping to visit Rumtek in the summer. Can you recommend any accomodation near Rumtek? Can you stay at the monastery itself? Is it easy to get vegetarian food?
Thank you,

  Satish May 6, 2007 2:48 AM

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