Chakra Centre, or Rumtek Monastery, is one of the most
important seats of the Kagyu lineage outside Tibet.
In the early 1960's, His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwang
Karmapa founded this seat near the 300 year old Kagyu
monastery built in the sixteenth century by the Fourth
King of Sikkim under the guidance of the ninth Karmapa.
The new Rumtek monastery was built about two kilometers
away from this old monastery.
became the International Kagyu Headquarters during the
life of His Holiness, from where lineage activities
manifested throughout the world. It also became the
residence of a new generation of Kagyu masters, who
are being trained in a tradition of study and meditation
practice which began 800 years ago.
photo of the Monastery; the
monastic college buildings are in the background
Chakra Center includes a beautifully structured main
shrine temple and monastery with monks' quarters, where
the Karmapa resides and where the most of the important
relics are enshrined; a three-year retreat center; a
Shedra, or monastic college, where the relics of the
Sixteenth Karmapa are enshrined; a nunnery; stupas;
a protector's shrine; institutions for the lay community;
and other establishments. Click
here for a panoramic view of Rumtek (large image: 85k).
AND OTHER FACTS
Chakra Center, known as the Rumtek Monastery, is located
in eastern Sikkim, 24 kilometers away from Gangtok,
the capital of the Sikkim, India. Rumtek is situated
at an altitude of about 5800 ft (1,547 metres); the
temperature in Summer is between a maximum of 20.7 and
minimum of 13.1 (deg.C°.); in Winter, maximum 14.9
/ minimum 7.7. The best season to visit, in terms of
weather, is March to late May, or from October to mid-December.
The following languages are spoken in the area: Sikkimese,
Pahari (the local Nepalese dialect), Hindi, Tibetan
EVENTS OF THE YEAR
monastery holds annual events for the public. Two of
the most festive and important events are held each
summer and winter . In the fourth lunar month of the
Tsurphu Tibetan calendar either the Guru Rinpoche or
the Vajrakilaya Drupchen (great sadhana practice retreat)
take place. The practice events lasts for ten days and
are followed by the traditional sacred lama dance of
the eight manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava (on the
10th day), Yidam dieties, and other protectors. At the
end of the lunar year, in the 12th month (usually sometime
between February and March), Rumtek holds another festive
ten-day practice of the Mahakala Protector. This is
followed by the traditional sacred lama dance of Mahakala
(on the 29th day). The Tibetan New Year (1st day of
the 1st month) celebration of the new year follows,
which usually lasts for 3-8 days, with the cultural
and spiritual festivities, typically involving many
Tibetan opera dance performances. These are some of
the most festive and important holidays for Rumtek.
These events provide an unique opportunity for both
practitioners and the general public to visit and enjoy
the traditional sacred lama dance performances, intense
week-long practices, and the cultural celebration of
the Tibetan New Year. More
on Annual Events
TO GET THERE
: The nearest airport is Bagdogra (124 kms). Both government
and private airlines operate flights to and from New
Delhi, Calcutta, Patna, and other cities.
Sikkim Helicopter Service operates a daily five-seater
helicopter service between Ganktok and Bagdogra, connecting
all civil flights to and from Bagdogra airport.
Depart Gangtok - 12:30 hrs · Depart Bagdogra
- 14:30 hrs except on Mondays/Fridays when departure
time is moved to 15:30 hrs to accommodate the arrival
of the Indian Airlines flight from Calcutta.
(Indian Rupees) Rs. 1500.00 per person
RNC Enterprise, M.G.Marg, Gangtok · Phone 
(0-3592) 23556 · Fax 23556 or Department of Tourism,
Govt. of Sikkim · Ph: (3592) 22064 / 22634
The nearest railway stations are in Siliguri (114 kilometers
(kms)) and New Jalpaiguri (NJP) (125 kms). Train service
runs to and from New and Old Delhi, Calcutta, Gaya,
Varanasi and other cities and towns of India.
Good motor roads connect Gangtok with Siliguri (114
kms), Darjeeling (139 kms), Calcutta (725 kms), and
Guwahati (589 kms).
Service: Regular bus services connect Gangtok with
Bagdogra, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri and Calcutta.
Sikkim Nationalized Transportation, which is a state
government bus service, and other private services operate
within Sikkim as well as outside the state.
Transportation: Buses and taxis are available.
1959, His Holiness the Sixteen Gyalwa Karmapa fled Tibet
after the communist Chinese invasion. After arriving
in Bhutan, he received a formal invitation from the
Choegyal (Dharma King) of Sikkim. The Choegyal Tashi
Namgyal and royal family of Sikkim had a long-standing
connection with the successive lines of Karmapas. The
royal family eventually decided to offer permanent residence
for His Holiness and his party in Sikkim. His Holiness
accepted the Choegyal's invitation to set up his main
exile seat in Sikkim.
Karmapa arrives in Sikkim
Holiness and the party arrived in Gangtok, the capital
of Sikkim, on the twenty-fifth day of the fourth month
of the earth pig year (1959).
the several sites proposed by Choegyal Tashi Namgyal,
H.H. Karmapa chose to settle at Rumtek area, an hour's
drive from the capital. The site possessed many auspicious
qualities and was surrounded by the most favorable attributes,
such as the flowing streams, mountains behind, a snow
range in front, a river below, and many others. His
Holiness Karmapa had a clear vision in his enlightened
mind that he must take full responsibility for the preservation
and revitalization of the Tibetan buddhist teachings
in general and Kagyu lineage in particular.
above the trees is the top of the ancient Kagyu
monastery in Rumtek, nearby the new monastery.
was the site of a monastery built by the ninth Karmapa,
Wangchuk Dorje, and the old monastery was still standing.
Indeed, the Karmapas have a long and storied connection
to Sikkim. In the latter half of the Sixteenth Century
A.D., the ninth Karmapa had been invited by the King
of Sikkim to build monasteries, one of which was established
by the Kagyu in Rumtek. The Kagyu order maintained strong
ties to Sikkim for many centuries.
the current Choegyal's reprise of his Sixteenth Century
predecessor's offer, Karmapa and his party immediately
departed for Rumtek, arriving on the fifth day of the
fifth month of the earth pig year (1959). Rumtek at
that time consisted of the old monastery built during
the time of the ninth Karmapa, which was mostly in ruins
and surrounded by dense jungle growth. The area was
undeveloped and had no facilities for supporting the
Karmapa and his party. Living conditions in the area
were extremely difficult and hard. During this early
period, His Holiness and his followers worked intensively
to make the place habitable. For many years, His Holiness
Karmapa, Rinpoches, lamas, monks and the lay community
lived in temporary quarters. Meanwhile, His Holiness
gathered resources to begin construction of new facilities
to support his monastic seat and the lay people surrounding
the monastery. Everyone worked with extreme exertion
to fulfill the dream of establishing the seat and the
community around it.
of the monastery
1962, construction of a new monastery and other facilities
for a monastic seat for the Karmapa began, which took
three years to complete. The Choegyal who had invited
the Karmapa to found his seat had passed away, but the
foundation stone of the new monastic center was laid
by the new King of Sikkim. The General Secretary for
His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa, Dhamchoe Yongdu,
led the project and the carried out the construction
precisely in accordance with the instructions of His
generosity of the Sikkimese royal family and the Indian
government - following the Karmapa's meeting with Pandit
Nehru - funded most of the construction. Ultimately,
the Karmapa's vision was accomplished due to His Holiness's
blessings, the support of the government, and the volunteer
work of the devoted students of the Karmapa.
inauguration of Rumtek Monastery
1966, after four years, construction of the monastery
was completed. The sacred items and relics brought out
from Tsurphu were installed. On Tibetan New Year's day
(losar) H.H. the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa officially
inaugurated the new seat called, "The Dharmachakra
Centre, a place of erudition and spiritual accomplishment,
the seat of the glorious Karmapa."
Holiness and the General Secretary, Mr. Dhamchoe Yongdu,
built the monastery according to very precise architectural
and structural guidelines. The main structure of the
monastery is in strict accord with the traditional architectural
designs of the Tibetan monasteries. The whole structure
is beautifully covered with murals, traditional Tibetan
style paintings. Indeed, the General Secretary later
received an architectural award for Rumtek Monastery
from the State of Sikkim for the beauty, precision,
and the authenticity of the traditional Tibetan architecture
used to create the monastery. This was the first monastery
built in India in the traditional design, and it became
the model for many other monasteries built later throughout