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    Exploring the Enchanting Temples of Sikkim

    Sikkim is known for known for its magnificent natural landscapes. Along with bounties of nature, Sikkim also houses several ancient and culturally-rich temples that give a glimpse into the state’s religious heritage. From Buddhist monasteries perched on hilltops to Hindu shrines located by rivulets, Sikkim has a variety of temples for the spiritually-inclined.

    If you are planning a trip to explore Sikkim, make sure to include some of these architecturally and historically fascinating temples in your itinerary. Here are 15 of the most popular temples in Sikkim that should not be missed.

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    Enchey Monastery

    Enchey Monastery

    Perched on a hilltop overlooking the city of Gangtok, Enchey Monastery is one of the most well-known Buddhist monasteries in Sikkim. Belonging to the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism, this monastery dates back to 1909. The architecture features colorful structures with sleek sloping roofs, prayer flags fluttering in the compound, and a golden top dome for the main temple.

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    Enchey is popular amongst locals who believe that the monastery is blessed by protective deities or ‘Khangchendzonga’. The most significant festival held here is the Chaam festival celebrated in January or February with masked dances. With its serene forested location and cultural significance, Enchey is undoubtedly among the must-visit temples in Sikkim for tourists.

    Location: 3 km from Gangtok City Center
    Visiting Hours: 4 AM – 6 PM
    How to Reach: One can take a shared taxi or private vehicle to reach the monastery in just 10 minutes from Gangtok.

    Rumtek Monastery

    Rumtek Monastery

    One of the most culturally significant Buddhist monasteries, Rumtek Monastery, located near Gangtok, served as the main seat of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhists until the early 1960s. Built in the traditional Tibetan style, the architecture is grandly decorated with silk brocade banners, intricate paintings called ‘thangkas’, gilded doors, and a lush green landscape.

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    The main temple houses some unique religious artifacts and relics brought from Tibet by the 16th Karmapa. Owing to its history and relics, Rumtek attracts thousands of Buddhist devotees every year, especially during the Tibetan New Year ‘Losar’ celebration. For people interested in Buddhism, culture, and architecture, visiting Rumtek Monastery is essential when exploring Sikkim.

    Location: 23 km from Gangtok
    Visiting Hours: 10 AM- 5 PM
    How to Reach: One can hire a taxi or take the government bus plying from Gangtok to Rumtek.

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    Tsuk La Khang Monastery

    Tsuk La Khang Monastery

    Tsuk La Khang Monastery, located near Gangtok, is the royal monastery and the main center of Buddhist worship for the former monarch of Sikkim. Built in a fusion of Tibetan and Sikkimese architectural styles, the monastery houses many ancient religious manuscripts, 25-foot tall statues of Buddhist figures, and a model that depicts the entire topography of Sikkim.

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    Tsuk La Khang is one of the most historically significant temples in Sikkim and is closely associated with the royal dynasty. It hosts the annual Pang Lhabsol festival celebrating Mt. Khanchendzonga, along with masked dances by the monks. Visitors can get an insight into Sikkim’s culture and history by visiting this temple when in Gangtok.

    Location: 5 km from Gangtok
    Visiting Hours: 8 AM- 5 PM
    How to Reach: Taxis are available from Gangtok to reach the monastery in 10 minutes.

    Tashiding Monastery

    tashiding monastery-sikkim

    Resting on top of a heart-shaped hill by the Rathong River valley, the Tashiding Monastery presents one of the most picturesque sights in Sikkim. Belonging to the Nyingma Buddhist order, Tashiding Monastery holds great spiritual significance as it is believed to bless one with high inner realizations.

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    Every year, during the ‘Bumchu’ festival held in February, devotees gather here to get the holy water as the first rays of the sun fall on it. The scenic hilltop location surrounded by prayer flags, cottages with Sikkimese architecture, and a community of maroon-clad monks make Tashiding a must-visit when looking for monasteries to explore in Sikkim.

    Location: 40 km from Gangtok City Center
    Visiting Hours: Morning to Evening
    How to Reach: One can take shared jeeps and taxis from Gangtok to reach Tashiding.

    Sanga Chilling Monastery

    Sanga Chilling Monastery

    Located in Pelling in West Sikkim, Sanga Chelling is a beautiful monastery built in a hexagonal pagoda shape that blends well with its pristine natural environment. This 135-year-old monastery belongs to the Nyingmapa order of Buddhism. Entering from its wooden entrance gate opening into a courtyard with flower gardens, one can admire its architecture, which is flourished with golden cornices, sculptures, and paintings. It is one of the most prominent temples in Sikkim, which you must visit.

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    Sanga Chelling is especially known for the festival of lights – ‘Khechuperra,’ which is celebrated annually in December with much joy. With its old-world charm and vibrant celebrations, Sanga Chelling presents a memorable experience for visitors in Pelling planning to explore the famous Sikkim temples.

    Location: Pelling
    Visiting Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM
    How to Reach: The monastery is within walking distance from the Pelling taxi stand.

    Pemayangtse Monastery

    The opulence of Pemayangtse Monastery

    As one of Sikkim’s oldest monasteries, Pemayangtse is renowned for its ancient history, unique architecture, and sculptures. Located in Pelling, this 275-year-old monastery belongs to the Tse-chu order of Mahayana Buddhism lineage established by Padmasambhava’s great-grandaunt. The intricate carvings and idol statues established in a seven-tier structure present a rare glimpse into the craftsmanship of Sikkimese lamas.

    The most significant feature of Pemayangtse is the sculptures depicting all human emotions carved seamlessly on a single wooden structure. Owing to its historical and architectural legacy, a visit to Pemayangtse Monastery is imperative to appreciate the cultural richness of Sikkim when exploring famous temples here.

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    Location: Pelling
    Visiting Hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
    How to Reach: Pemayangtse is a 10-minute walk from Pelling Bazaar.

    Ralang Monastery

    Ralang Monastery

    Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre, situated near Rabongla town on the North Sikkim route, is popularly known as Ralang Monastery owing to Ralang village’s close proximity, making it among the most important temples in Sikkim to visit. Incorporating Tibetan, Sikkimese, and modern architecture built by revered monks in 1995, Ralang presents a picturesque monastery surrounded by rolling meadows.

    The monastery belongs to the Kagyu lineage, accentuated by the high-rising slopes of its golden-domed roof visible even from far-off distances. The Wheel of Time is a significant structure here, depicting intricate artwork made of clay that symbolizes the core elements of the Buddhist faith. If exploring art or seeking spiritual solace, make sure to spend some time soaking in the vibes of Ralang Monastery in North Sikkim.

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    Location: 6 km from Ravongla town
    Visiting Hours: Morning to Evening
    How to Reach: One can reach Ralang from Gangtok by hiring a private vehicle.

    Phensang Monastery

    Phensang Monastery

    Phensang Monastery, located in North Sikkim near Gangtok, presents an offbeat destination for people interested in a quiet retreat amidst nature. Set against the backdrop of towering Kanchenjunga peaks and established in 1721 by three lamas, Phensang Monastery is surrounded by thick Rhododendron forests buzzing with songbirds.

    The monastery follows the Nyingmapa order of Tibetan Buddhism and celebrates annual festivals like the Lamas Dance and Kagyed Dance with much exuberance. Visitors can admire ancient ‘thangka’ paintings, sculptures, and scriptures, along with masks used for ceremonial dances inside its prayer hall. If you are looking for a serene spiritual destination, include a visit to Phensang Monastery in your itinerary.

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    Location: 38 km from Gangtok
    Visiting Hours: 10 AM – 4 PM
    How to Reach: Drive up to the monastery by hiring a private vehicle from Gangtok.

    Lingdum Monastery

    Lingdum Terraces, East Sikkim

    Perched atop a hill at an impressive 8,000 ft height near Ravangla lies the pristine Lingdum Monastery enveloped in mist. Surrounded by cardamom plantations and forests, the monastery provides a panoramic vista of Ravangla town from its trails decorated by fluttering prayer flags, and almost everyone visits this one of the temples in Sikkim.

    Followers of the Gelugpa order, which is part of Tibetan Buddhism, pray within the hallowed white-washed walls of the Lingdum monastery, established in the late 18th century by Chadok Rinpoche. The annual Pang Lhabsol festival celebrated here draws believers from far and wide, making it essential to visit Lingdum to witness rich Tibetan cultural heritage.

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    Location: Ravangla, South Sikkim
    Visiting Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM
    How to Reach: One can take shared jeeps from Ravangla town to reach Lingdum Monastery.

    Yangyang Monastery

    Yangyang Monastery

    Yangyang Monastery, nestled amidst forested hills near Rabongla, offers a fascinating fusion of monastic tradition and paranormal mysteries. Although following the Nyingma Buddhist order, locals believe Yangyang is guarded by powerful, non-worldly entities rather than monks alone.

    Especially intriguing is self-arisen Drolma, a female figure imprinted on a rock surface supposedly increasing and decreasing every year. Other highlights include rare statues, holy scripts, and its location within thick forests, making Yangyang monastery a historically appealing site beyond spirituality.

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    Location: South Sikkim
    Visiting Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
    How to Reach: Hired vehicles from Ravangla connect Yangyang Monastery to the town.

    Dubdi Monastery

    Dubdi Monastery

    Dubdi Monastery, standing tall since 1701 atop a peak near Yuksom, presents a majestic sight surrounded by a river valley and lush forests. As Sikkim’s oldest surviving monastery, built during the coronation of the first King of Sikkim, it holds invaluable cultural and political significance.

    The monastery, built in pagoda style, follows Tibetan Buddhist rituals with ancient artifacts like crowns, gold-orange robes, sculptures, and paintings preserved inside. Dubdi’s strategic hilltop location near the famous trekking route offers magnificent Himalayan views along with a glimpse into Sikkim’s historical past, making it one of the must-visit temples in Sikkim.

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    Location: Yuksom
    Visiting Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
    How to Reach: Take the main road from Yuksom town square towards Dubdi Peak base to start the ascent.

    Wrapping up

    Be it ancient Buddhist monasteries situated amidst pristine hills or renowned Hindu shrines immersed in festivities, Sikkim houses a myriad of blissful temples. These holy sites provide great insight into the cultural diversity of Sikkim, ranging from its Tibetan influence to Nepali architectural heritage. So try including a few intriguing temples in your Sikkim sightseeing schedule to make your journey more wholesome.

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