Sikkim, a mystical land nestled in the lap of the mighty Himalayas, is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, vibrant culture, and spiritual charm. Beyond its snow-capped peaks and lush valleys, Sikkim is also home to a rich heritage of awe-inspiring monuments that offer a glimpse into its glorious past.
From ancient monasteries perched on hilltops to royal palaces steeped in history, this enchanting state boasts a collection of architectural marvels that captivate the imagination of travelers. Today, we will explore the 7 most famous monuments in Sikkim that you simply cannot miss during your visit to this extraordinary destination.
Sikkim’s monuments not only showcase the exquisite craftsmanship of bygone eras but also hold deep cultural and religious significance. Each structure has its own unique story to tell, transporting visitors back in time and allowing them to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Sikkimese heritage. Whether you are a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or a spiritual seeker, these remarkable monuments are bound to leave an indelible mark on your soul.
So let’s explore the 7 most famous monuments in Sikkim.
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1: Rabdentse Ruins
Rabdentse, the former capital of the Kingdom of Sikkim from 1670 to 1814, now stands as captivating ruins near Pelling in West Sikkim. Destroyed during the Nepalese invasion, these archaeological remnants offer a glimpse into Sikkim’s glorious past. As you explore the dense forest and walk through moss-draped chestnut trees, you’ll discover the stone throne of “Namphogang” and the central ruins that provide a mesmerizing view of southwestern Sikkim. Adjacent to Pemayangtse Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim, these ruins unveil the history and grandeur of the former capital.
After delving into the royal history at Rabdentse, take a short walk to Pemayangtse Monastery, basking in its serene ambiance. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy spotting rare Himalayan birds in the lush green forests. Nearby attractions include the awe-inspiring Singshore Bridge and the spiritually uplifting Khecheopalri Lake. Accessible from Pelling, which is approximately 100 kilometers from Gangtok, Rabdentse offers a captivating journey through Sikkim’s past and can be reached by hiring a cab or embarking on a leisurely walk from Pelling, where the ruins are just an hour away. Whenever you find yourself in Sikkim, exploring the ruins of Rabdentse will transport you to a bygone era of the kingdom’s vibrant history.
2: Pemayangtse Monastery
Pemayangtse Monastery, the second oldest in Sikkim, is a well-preserved treasure located 107 kilometers west of Gangtok. Nestled amidst snow-capped mountains and verdant valleys, the town offers a scenic backdrop at an elevation of 5840 feet. The monastery, meaning “perfect sublime lotus,” showcases intricate sculptures, paintings, and ancient scrolls within its three-storied structure.
Founded by Lama Lhatsun Chempoway, the monastery has withstood earthquakes and renovations over time. It serves as the starting point for the popular Dzongri trekking trail and hosts vibrant Tibetan festivals. With over 100 monks, Pemayangtse Monastery remains a prominent center for the Bhutia community and Mindroling lineage in Sikkim.
3: Rumtek Monastery
Perched on a hill overlooking Gangtok, Rumtek Monastery is one of the largest and most significant monasteries in Sikkim. Founded by the 9th Karmapa Lama in the 16th century, this monastery, originally known as the Dharma Chakra Centre, serves as a shrine temple and a place of learning for Buddhist monks. The monastery’s stunning architecture, resembling the Kagyu headquarters, is complemented by its serene location amidst lush green mountains.
Located 23 km from Gangtok, Rumtek Monastery is a visual and spiritual retreat. It houses a Buddhism college, the Karma Shri Nalanda Institute, and features a walkway where visitors can join monks and pilgrims in performing the kora, a sacred circuit around the monastery. Inside the monastery, one can find ancient sculptures, religious art objects, and precious scriptures. The main shrine hall is adorned with traditional Tibetan artwork, murals, and a statue of Sakyamuni Buddha.
To reach Rumtek Monastery, the nearest airport is Bagdogra, approximately 126 km away, with transportation options available from there. Alternatively, one can travel by train to New Jalpaiguri, which is well-connected to major cities in India. Rumtek Monastery stands as a testament to traditional Tibetan architectural design and serves as an important center for Buddhist teachings and practices in the region.
4: Siddheshwar Dham
Siddheshwar Dham, also known as Char Dham Temple, is a Hindu temple located on Solophok Hill near Namchi in Sikkim. The temple complex features a 108-feet high statue of Lord Shiva and replicas of the four Char Dham temples (Badrinath, Jagannath, Dwarka, and Rameshwaram) and twelve Jyotirlingas. This pilgrimage-cum-cultural center has become a popular tourist destination, attracting devotees and visitors alike.
In addition to exploring Siddheshwar Dham, visitors can enjoy nearby attractions such as the Tendong Hill and Maenam Hill treks, Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, Tendong State Biodiversity Park, and various monasteries including Ralang Monastery, Doling Gompa, Ngadak Monastery, and Serdup Choling Monastery. The majestic Padmasambhava Statue at Samdruptse Hill is also worth a visit.
Siddheshwar Dham offers devotees the opportunity to experience the spiritual essence of the Char Dham temples and the significance of the twelve Jyotirlingas. This temple complex has gained recognition as a revered destination in a short period, offering a glimpse of these holy sites and enabling visitors to seek divine blessings and cleanse their souls.
5: Dubdi Monastery
Located in the serene village of Yuksom in West Sikkim, Dubdi Monastery, also known as Yuksom Monastery, is the oldest monastery in Sikkim. Established in 1701 by Chogyal Namgyal, the monastery is an important Buddhist shrine of the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
Situated atop a hill, Dubdi Monastery offers breathtaking views of Mount Kanchenjunga and exudes a sense of tranquility. While visiting Dubdi Monastery, travelers can also explore nearby attractions such as Kartok Monastery, Tashiding Monastery, Norbugang Chorten, Khangchendzonga National Park, and Tashi Tenka, which offers stunning views of Yuksom.
To reach Dubdi Monastery, one can take a shared jeep or SSRTC bus from Geyzing or Pelling to Yuksom, followed by a short 3-kilometer walk. Private taxis are also available for those who prefer to avoid the trek.
6: Kirateshwar Mahadev Mandir
Kirateshwar Mahadev Mandir is a renowned Hindu pilgrimage site located in Legship, West Sikkim. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and also has platforms for worshiping Lord Rama and Goddess Durga. It is believed to be the oldest temple in the state and has significance in the Mahabharata epic. The temple is known for its festivals, including Bala Chaturdesi in November-December and Maha Shivaratri in February-March, which attract devotees from near and far.
Visitors can witness the vibrant celebrations during the festive seasons and explore the serene surroundings of the temple located by the banks of the River Rangit. The best time to visit is from February to May, although devotees can plan their visit during the festivals for a more immersive experience. Kirateshwar Mahadev Mandir holds cultural and spiritual importance, with devotees believing that a visit to the temple with sincere devotion can fulfill their wishes and bring peace, harmony, and good health.
7: Coronation Throne of Norbugang
The Coronation Throne of Norbugang in Yuksom holds historical significance as the place where the crowning of the first Chogyal king took place in 1642. The site features the Norbugang Chorten, believed to hold buried treasures, as well as seats for the three lamas and the king. Visitors can explore the serene surroundings, including the mystic pine tree, the Kathok Lake, and the footprints of one of the lamas embedded in a rock.
Nearby, there are monasteries such as Dubdi, Kartok, and Tashiding, along with the Tashi Tenka site and the Khangchendzonga National Park, offering glimpses of unexplored wildlife. The best time to visit is from March to May when the weather is pleasant.
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