Your first visit will be to the marvellous Rumtek Monastery, a 24km drive from Gangtok through beautiful countryside. The monastery (below left) is the last a thriving centre of Mahayana Buddhism, and is the seat of the Karmapa Lama who heads the Kagyupa Sect of Buddhism. Thankhas (religious scroll paintings) and frescoes decorate the walls of this ancient monastery, built in the Tibetan style, and renovated in the 1960s from a state of near collapse. The monastery is the largest in Sikkim, and spreads over a huge area. It includes a school built on modern lines to impart teachings in aspects of Buddhism. An aviary containing the most exotic birds also exists in the monastery complex. Some distance above the monastery is a hermitage in which monks go into complete seclusion for meditation for periods of up to 3 years.
Continue to the Research Institute of Tibetology. Situated in a serene forest of oak, ash and birch, this organisation's purpose is to advance the Tibetan language and its literature on the "Enlightened one"; it is the only one of its kind in the world of Mahayana Buddhism. This institute is the premier institute in the world conducting research in the language and culture of Tibet.
Near the Deorali Bazaar, are two exquisite Stupas, the Dul-dul-Chorten, built to commemorate the victory of good over evil, and the Jhang Club Chorten, which perpetuates the memory of a great spiritualist of the modern era, Thrul-shik Rinpoche, who died in 1962.
Enchey Monastery is an important seat of the Nyingma order. It is more than 200 years old and is built in the style of a Chinese pagoda. It currently houses around 90 monks (pictured below: some of the novice monks).