Sikkim is well known for its share of scenic beauty and monasteries. Among the monasteries, the Sanga Choeling Monastery and Pemayangste are the two of the oldest ones.
The Sanga Choeling Monastery
The Sanga Choeling Monastery in Sikkim is one of the oldest monasteries of this region. It is located just above Pelling at a distance of about 1.5 km from it. Pelling is a small town at about 6800 altitudes which provides magnificent views of Kanchendzonga. Thus it is obvious the surroundings of the Sanga Choelin monastery provides an even grander view.
This Monastery was built by Lama Latsun Chempo in 1697 which reflects Tibetan architecture. Sanga Choeling literary means an island of secret teachings and it is in fact in earlier times was known especially as a place where secret mantras were taught. even today it is considered as a very sacred place for the Buddhists and a highly valued pilgrimage site. The monastery belongs to the Nyingma sect of Buddhism.
Although the monastery has been through restoration and rebuild after fire quite a number of times, it has somehow been able to retain some of the old 17th-century paintings, items and statues made up of clay. After Lama Latsun Chempo passed away his belongings and items are preserved here and considered as sacred. However, entry to inner sanctum is permissible only to Lepcha and Bhutia communities. There is provision for living for male monks inside the monastery.
One needs to trek or walk through a rich forest to reach the monastery from Pelling. The brief easy trekking through forest and views of the unparallel beauty of the Himalayas surrounding the monastery along with the architectural style of monastery makes the journey worthwhile even though entering it may not be possible.
The Pemayangtse monastery is just 7 km from Sanga Choeling monastery and is also one of the must visit place in Pelling. This monastery is of great significance to the Buddhists. It was established in 1705 and founded by Gyalwa Latsun Chempo.
The literal meaning of Pemayangtse is a Perfect sublime lotus. This monastery belongs to Mahayana Buddhism’s Nyingmapa sect.
The three-storeyed monastery is unique because of its exquisitely curved wooden structure. The wooden structure in the top floor has a sphere known as “zangdokpalri” and is said to a representation of a vision which was experienced by Gyalwa Latsun Chempo. Pemayangtse monastery has a beautiful collection of sculptures, paintings, ancient manuscripts, and antique idols. The door and windows are richly decorated with traditional Tibetan designs and paintings. There is a statue Guru Padmasambhava with gold plating as well as saint Rinpoche.
This monastery is meant solely for monks who are of 100 percent Tibetan lineage and celibates. The monks of this monastery are exclusively known as ta-tshang. The head of the monastery is endowed with the privilege of anointing Chogyals (monarchs of Sikkim) with holy water.
Not only this monastery is known for its religious significance but also for breathtaking views of the Himalayas which surrounds the monastery.
How to reach:
The Pemayangtse monastery is located just 2 km away from Pelling if you are driving from Geyzing route and approximately 110 km from the state capital, Gangtok. Taxis are easily available to visit the monastery.
Best Time to Visit:
To catch the famous cham dance festival one may visit in February. Otherwise anytime from March till June is favorable as the clear skies present the panoramic beauty of this place at its best.
The monastery is open for visitors from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. every day.
It is required to remove footwear before entering the monastery. Permission for photography must be taken before clicking any pictures. The interiors present a calm soothing and silent ambiance and visitors are expected to maintain that.
Featured Photo by Retlaw Snellac Photography