Enchey Monastery is a 200-year-old monastery located 3 kilometres northeast of Gangtok. Lama Drupthob Karpo, a prominent exponent of tantric art skilled in Buddhism with flying powers, blessed the place. He is said to have first built a small Gompa, after which he flew from Maenam Hill in South Sikkim to this location. ‘Enchey Monastery’ literally means ‘the solitary temple.’ The Monk is also claimed to have established a tiny hermitage on the monastery grounds after flying here from Maenam Hill in South Sikkim.
The current monastery structure was constructed under the reign of Sidkeong Tulku (1909 1910). The Nyingma sect has roughly 90 monks living at Enchey Monastery presently. It houses a multitude of religious artefacts and images of Gods and Goddesses. The three main deities worshipped in the monastery are the Buddha, Loketeswara, and Guru Padmasambhava. Every year, on the 18th and 19th days of the Tibetan calendar’s 12th lunar month, corresponding to the months of January and February, special prayers are offered at the monastery. The brilliant and colourful “Chaam,” or holy masked dance, occurs at the Monastery in January.
Why should I visit this? there?
The Enchey (meaning alone) Monastery, set on a magnificent ridge north of Gangtok, lives up to its name. On a clear day, the monastery overlooks Gangtok and provides a stunning view of the Kanchendzonga’s snow-capped peaks. Enchey is one of the most prominent seats of the Nyingma order, the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, and was built in 1840. The building of the monastery, which is highly venerated by the inhabitants, can be credited in part to the evolution of Gangtok from a hamlet to a large town over the previous century.
During the reign of the 10th Chogyal of Sikkim, it was restored in 1908 to resemble a Chinese pagoda. The enormous prayer hall is supported by intricately carved pillars, and its walls are decorated with magnificent murals depicting the pantheon of Mahayana deities. The monastery also has a magnificent collection of masks, which are frequently utilised in Cham dances at festivals. Unfortunately, during the 2011 earthquake, certain parts of the monastery were severely damaged.
When should I visit?
Enchey’s legendary Detor Cham ceremonial dance is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The festival, which takes place between January and February, features exciting performances by resident monks dressed in elaborate costumes and hideous masks.
Around August/September, the monastery hosts PANG LHABSOL, a celebration commemorating the blood oath between the local Bhutia and Lepcha communities, with Kanchendzonga as the witness.
The months of March to June and September to October are generally regarded as the ideal times to visit Sikkim.
The monastery is open to tourists from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
How should I visit?
Enchey is located on the road that connects Gangtok and Nathula. If you don’t mind walking, the best way to get there is on foot, as the route offers some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Taxis are, however, available for hiring from Gangtok.
Tips for smooth travel
Before taking images, obtain permission from monastery officials, and refrain from engaging in any behaviour that would jeopardise the monastery’s sanctity, such as talking loudly.
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