GONJANG MONASTERY GUIDE
Why Should I Go
For those who have braved the slopes, visited the points and basked in the natural beauty of Sikkim, the Gonjang Monastery will turn out to be the perfect end to a fruitful day. The monastery was blessed by the Dalai Lama and its proximity to Gangtok makes it a favourite with travellers wanting to explore a monastery not too far from town.
Situated at an altitude of 6066ft, established in 1981, Gonjang Gompa is home to some of the most unique religious artefacts you will find in a monastery belonging to the Nyingma Order of Buddhism.
How Do I Get There
The shortest route from the heart of Gangtok to Gonjang Monastery is less than 8kms. From the local taxi stand, one can board either a shared or private vehicle and enter Sichey onto Lower Burtuk Road, and from there onto NH10 towards the monastery.
The distance separating Gonjang and Tashi View Point is just 600mts, so stopping on the way back from Tashi is a good idea.
When Should I Land Up
Since this monastery is located at a height, one can take in the panoramic valley and mountains in the background. A summer visit, on a clear day, will really make for a memorable trip to Gonjang.
Just like a number of picturesque monasteries in Sikkim, the winter is a game-changer. There is something absolutely soothing about watching the mountains clad in white; exploring the inner sanctum of the gompa, stepping out of the piercing wind, is a different experience when you visit during the cold months.
Post 9 a.m. and before it turns dark is a good time to visit Gonjang Monastery.
The Finer Details
The first artefacts worth checking out are the idols of Khen-lop-Choe-Sum, the 8th century founding fathers of Tibetan Buddhism.
Don’t miss the engraved statues of Padmasambhava’s twenty-five disciples, collectively known as, Jebang Nyernga. They were prominent disciples of Padmasambhava who received direct transmissions from the enlightened Buddhist master.
Gonjang Monastery was established by Tingkye Gonjang Rimpoche who was accepted as an incarnation of Yelmo Tertön Ngakchang Shakya Zangpo, a Nyingma tertön from the 15th century. A tertön, according to Tibetan Buddhism, is a person who uncovers terma, or hidden teachings. A number of tertöns are regarded as incarnations of Padmasambhava’s Jebang Nyernga (25 disciples).
The murals here are intricately done and stepping into this monastery is like walking into a more peaceful world.
Like other Nyingma institutes, Gonjang offers a 9-year course on comparative and close studies of Tibetan and Indian philosophy founded on moral values.
While you can click photographs of the monastery’s exterior, the inner sanctum does not allow the same. Respect the gompa’s sanctity by adhering to this rule.
Make sure you don’t touch the idols and other religious artefacts while exploring the inside of the monastery.
Gonjang Gompa is religiously significant and if you’re interested in the history of Buddhism in Sikkim, this monastery should make it onto your list.