On our way to Char Dham, we went to Samdruptse Hill, near Namchi. Namchi or Namtse means Sky (Nam) High (Chi)in Sikkimese. It is situated at an altitude of 1,675 m (5500 feet) above sea level. Samdruptse Hill is just 5 km away from Namchi, situated at an altitude of 2134 m (7000 ft). This epic hill is ornamented with a giant statue of the Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) — the patron saint of Sikkim who has been showering its blessings since more than 1,200 years. Samdruptse literally means ‘wish fulfilling hill’ in the Bhutia language. It is also said that the Samdruptse hill is actually a Dormant Volcano.
Guru Padmasambhava is said to have transmitted Buddhism to Tibet, Bhutan and neighbouring countries in the 8th century CE. In these lands he is better known as Guru Rinpoche (precious Guru). He introduced the people of Tibet to the practice of Tantric Buddhism.
Painted in shimmering copper, pink and bronze, the awe-inspiring and gigantic 45 metre-high statue of Guru Rinpoche, lords over the forested Samdruptse ridge and is visible for miles around. The views are spectacular across and the statue can be seen from across many places in Sikkim and Darjeeling. It is the highest statue of Guru Padmasambhava in the entire world!
The statue is an incredible triumph of engineering, that took around seven years for its construction under the sponsorship of the Sikkim State Government. The foundation stone for the statue was laid by Dalai Lama in the year 1997.
Padmasambhava was born into a Brahmin family of Northwest India. According to tradition, Padmasambhava was incarnated as an eight-year-old child appearing in a lotus blossom floating in Lake Dhanakosha, in the kingdom of Oḍḍiyāna in the present Swat Valley of Pakistan. His special nature was recognized by the childless local king of Oḍḍiyāna and was chosen to take over the kingdom, but he left Oḍḍiyāna for northern parts of India.
The land of Sikkim, at the border of India and Tibet, was consecrated as a hidden sanctuary for the Buddha’s teachings by the great master Padmasambhava, who blessed it with the vajra wisdom of his body, speech, and mind. He is considered as the second Buddha.
The path leading to the hill-top is lined by coloured flags with Buddhist hymns were being played through sound system placed along side the pathway.
The Samdruptse Monastery is one amongst the most sacred monasteries of Sikkim. The architecture of the Samdruptse Monastery is a mixture of Sikkimese, Tibetan and Modern day architecture. It is definitely not the oldest and so the good aspects about the monastery includes that it has got all the modern day architecture and plan included in it. And so it is this very fact which differentiates the Samdruptse Monastery from the rest of the monasteries in Sikkim. It is also having many historic sculptures, statues, artifacts, paintings etc. The sculptures also decorated the walls of some parts of the monastery with amazing historic story telling paintings. The monastery is constructed in such a way that it surrounds the Guru Padmasambhava statue from all sides. Within the complex, there’s a permanent photo exhibition of archival images documenting Sikkim’s cultural, natural and artistic history.
People have been stacking stones to make cairns. Earlier used as messengers, signs and landmarks in unoccupied lands, locals suggest that they are also known to bring good luck for travellers. Myths say that the Buddhist monks have been going on top of the hill and offering prayers to the volcano to keep it calm.
In the hillock at the back of the statue, Buddhists place their prayer flags and built cairns stacking stones to bring good luck to them on the top of ‘wish fulfilling hill’.
We had hot tea at the restaurant in a complex outside the gate of the temple complex and then we went ahead for Char Dham.