Jaya and I went to Rumtek Monastery about 20 years ago. Now, again we thought of going there with Babai. Rumtek is also called the Dharmachakra Centre. It is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located near Gangtok, almost 24 km away. It is at a height of about 1,550 m (5,100 ft).
Originally built by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje in 16th century, at the same time as Phodong Monastery and Ralang Monastery, Rumtek served as the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in Sikkim for some time. When the Communists began to occupy Tibet during the 1950s, the Karmapa realized he would have to leave the country to preserve the accumulated spiritual legacy of the Karma Kagyu. During the 1959 uprising, he left Tsurphu Monastery with a group of 150 tulkus, lamas, monks, and lay followers. Carrying spiritual treasures, relics, and texts that had been collected at Tsurphu for 700 years, they made the long and difficult journey to India through Bhutan.
On reaching the Indian border town of Buxa Duar, the Karmapa received an invitation from His Majesty Chogyal Tashi Namgyal, the king of Sikkim, to establish a new seat in that country. The Karmapa accepted, continuing a very long religious and spiritual relationship between the Gyalwa Karmapas and the kingdom of Sikkim.The sacred items and relics brought out from Tsurphu Monastery, the Karmapa’s seat in Tibet, were installed.
The monastery is currently the largest in Sikkim. It is home to the community of monks and where they perform the rituals and practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage. Standing at the center of a new shrine room in the original building of the Karma Shri Nalanda Institute is the Golden Stupa (Lhabab Chodten), a magnificent reliquary that contains the precious relics and holy remains of His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. Tsurphu labrang, the main administrator of Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre, had the shrine specially constructed to serve as the receptacle for these objects of worship and deep veneration.
Opposite that building is a college, Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies.
After our prayers there, we left for Gangtok. On our way, we stopped for a while for hot tea and momo, a Tibetan food. It was raining then and hot tea and momo tasted lovely.