LINGDUM MONASTERY GUIDE
Why Should I Visit
Though Lingdum or Ranka Monastery is a fairly new addition to Sikkim’s vast repertoire of Buddhist monasteries, it certainly takes away the prize for being the most picturesque of all. Sitting pretty on the same range of mountain as Rumtek, the Lingdum monastery was founded by Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche, the 12th incarnation of Zurmang Gharwang of Kagyu Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Though the construction began in the year 1992, it was only inaugurated in 1999.
This magnificient monastery complex is spread over a sprawling 21 acres of richly forested mountain side and offers a brilliant view of the majestic mountains that surround it. As you enter, you will be greeted by an array of beautifully carved prayer wheels. Right in the middle of the complex is a large courtyard with an attractive main temple at its centre. Inside the main prayer hall rests a giant gilded statue of Buddha, 5 metres tall, with another smaller one of Guru Padmasambhava by its side. It also houses a rare collection of Buddhist manuscripts. The walls are festooned with intricate thangka paintings and vibrant hand-stitched wall-hangings.
The monastery complex also has a restaurant and a small souvenir shop for visitors next to the car park.
How Do I Get There
The Lingdum Monastery is about 16 km away from the main city of Gangtok, in a small village called Ranka. Another famous attraction called Banjhakri Falls is on the same route. The road to the monastery is not in a good condition so it is advisable to hire a larger car to take you there from Gangtok.
When Should I Land Up
Like all other places in Sikkim, the best time to visit is during the months of March to May and September to October. However, if you are a culture buff who is keen on exploring monasteries, you should visit during Lhosar i.e the Tibetan New Year. Most monasteries celebrate it with great pomp and joy. Just two days prior to Lhosar which usually falls sometime between the months of January and February, another festival called Gutor is celebrated at the Lingdum Monastery. Incredible masked dances are performed to symbolize the victory of good over evil. It is certainly a feast for your eyes!
The lineage of Zhurmang Gharwang of the Kagyu sect goes way back to the 1300s. It began with the great saint, Trung Mase who was the first Zhurmang Gharwang. Born into a family of learned men in Minyak, in the East Kham region of Tibet, Trung Mase was recognized as the emanation of the great Buddhist master, Tilopa. The lineage remains unbroken to this day. It is currently headed by the 12th Zhurmang Gharwang.
Unlike other monasteries, the entire premises of the Lingdum Monastery is open to visitors. Avoid disturbing the monks and take permission before taking photographs.