Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rumtek Monastery - Seat of the Karmapa

The Black and White Thursday photos of the week which I am posting today shows the Rumtek Monastery also known as the Dharmachakra Centre. It is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in the Indian state of Sikkim, 24kms from the capital Gangtok and at an altitude of about 1500metres above sea level. Originally built by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje in 16th century, Rumtek served as the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in Sikkim for some time.

The Rumtek Monastery.
The outer walls of the main worship hall have paintings of Guru Padmasambhava in his various forms.

When the 16th Karmapa arrived in Sikkim in 1959, after fleeing Tibet, the monastery was in ruins. Despite being offered other sites, the Karmapa decided to rebuild Rumtek. To him, the site possessed many auspicious qualities and was surrounded by the most favorable attributes. He cited, flowing streams, mountains behind, a snow range in front, and a river below as some factors for establishing his main seat in exile here.

After four years, construction of the monastery was completed (with help from the Chogyal and Indian Government). The sacred items and relics brought out from Tsurphu Monastery, the Karmapa's seat in Tibet, have been  installed here. On Tibetan New Year's Day (Losar) in 1966 the 16th Karmapa officially inaugurated the new seat called, "The Dharmachakra Centre, a place of erudition and spiritual accomplishment, the seat of the glorious Karmapa."

The monastery is currently the largest in Sikkim. It is home to the community of monks and where they perform the sacred rituals and practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage. A large Golden Stupa inside the monastery contains the relics of the 16th Karmapa.


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