Sikkim is one of the most scenic and popular destinations for travelling in India. Located in northeast India, Sikkim is blessed with serene landscapes and rich culture. Moreover, there are some beautiful architectural edifices with intricate craftsmanship. Here are some places an architect must visit when in the state.

Rumtek Monastery

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Rumtek Monastery_©MouthShut.com

Located at a height of 1500 meters, the monastery provides a striking vantage of the valley around Gangtok. It was built to carry forward the vision of the sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje to spread his teachings. It is a three-story building and also displays religious Buddhist art through wall paintings. It has a spectacular golden Buddha stupa, prayer wheels in the monastery, and beautiful scenes.  

Dubdi Monastery

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Dubdi Monastery_ ©Flickr.com

One of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim, the Dubdi monastery’s plan is square and faces the south. The monastery has two floors and a statue of three lamas (considered founders of Yuksom). The building has a flat roof of iron sheets and a tapering tower with projecting eaves. ‘Gyaltshen’, a bell-shaped dome is on the top of the roof.

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology  

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Namgyal Institute of Tibetology_ ©TripAdvisor.com

The institute is a museum and Tibetan culture study institute dedicated to the conservation and encouragement of Tibetan culture. In 1957, the Dalai Lama placed the foundation stone, and a year later, the institute was founded in 1958. An epitome of Sikkimese architecture, the building facade is dominantly white in colour. The building portrays fine craftsmanship and Buddhist culture. The museum on the ground floor displays various collections of coins, statues, and thangkas (scrolls with hand painting and embroidery work).

Lepcha house  

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Lepcha House_ ©Flickr.com

A Lepcha house, also known as ‘Kaa Den-Mo-Lee’, is the traditional abode of the local people residing in this region. These vernacular houses are designed considering the climate and are earthquake-resistant. These houses use vernacular materials available. The structure comprises wood and is designed on the principle of gravity. Structural members such as rafters, flooring planks, cross beams, and battens are used in the house.

Enchey Monastery  

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Enchey Monastery_ ©Flickr.com

Established in 1909 above Gangtok, Enchey Monastery is an icon for Sikkimese architecture. It has several images of Gods and Goddesses. Buddha, Loki Sharia, and Guru Padmasambhava are worshipped in this monastery. The walls of the prayer hall are covered with murals and paintings. Moreover, architects with an eye for detail will appreciate the beautiful carved ornate windows and four carved pillars supporting the roof of the monastery. This monastery houses 90 monks.

Kirateshwar Mahadev Mandir 

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Kirateshwar Mahadev Mandir_ ©Flickr.com

Located at Legship, West Sikkim along the banks of River Rangeet, the temple is a Hindu pilgrimage site dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is built with vernacular small, textured bricks. Known for its spaciousness, the temple can accommodate 500 pilgrims.

Ganesh tok

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Ganesh Tok_ ©TripInvites.com

The temple is dedicated to Lord Ganpati and is located 7 km from Gangtok. The unique feature of the temple is that the inner Sanctorum is so small that only one person can visit it at a time. The temple is located on the top of the hill which also offers scenic views.

Samdruptse Monastery,Namchi

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Sampdruptse Monastery,Namchi_ ©TripAdvisor.com

The Samdruptse Monastery is a beautiful amalgamation of Tibetan, Sikkimese and modern-day styles of architecture. On 22nd October 1997, The Dalai Lama laid the foundation of the monastery in Namchi. The emphasis of the monastery is a 135 feet tall golden Guru Padmasambhava statue with copper-coloured clothes. The monastery houses wonderful paintings, historic sculptures, artifacts, and statues. Apart from being a tourist attraction, the monastery provides accommodation to lamas and monks.

Coronation throne of Norbugang

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Norugang Chorten_ ©en.wikipedia.org

The site reflects an archaic charm. This site is the place where the first Chogyal king-Phuntsog Namgyal was crowned in the year 1642. After the coronation ceremony, a wall was erected and named Norbugang Chorten. The site has a shrine with a giant prayer wheel, seats of the three Lamas and the King, a pine tree, and a beautiful Kathok lake. The garden around this site bears a lot of indigenous trees and plants.

Pemayangtse monastery

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Pemayangtse monastery_ ©Flickr.com

Pemayangtse monastery is one of the most tranquil places in Sikkim. Located at an elevation of 2085 m, the monastery is a three-story structure. It has a serene backdrop of snow-capped mountains. In 1913 and 1960 the monastery was damaged by the earthquakes but was refurbished again. The unique features observed in this monastery are Padmasambhava statues and statues of his two consorts.

The prayer hall has colourful painted doors and windows. The monastery overlooks Rabdentse ruins and has beautiful gardens on the site.

Rabdentse ruins

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Rabdentse ruins_©Wikimedia Commons

Till 1841 AD, the second capital of Sikkim was Rabdentse. The site has old ruins of Rabdentse Palace and lies on a lower hillock in Pelling. This site is a must-visit for architects with an interest in history. Apart from this, the site offers wonderful views of a valley below Kanchenjunga peak. Various festivities take place at Rabdentse ruins and also, and people can enjoy bird watching.

Tashiding monastery

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Tashiding monastery_©TripInvites.com

Tashiding monastery is one of the most popular monasteries in Sikkim and hence, thousands of people visit every year to seek spirituality. The monastery built in the 17th century on top of the hill between the rivers Rangit and Rathong belongs to the Nyingmapa order. According to popular belief, the monastery cleanses all the sins of the ones seeking forgiveness and repentance. The Bhumchhu festival is celebrated with enthusiasm in this monastery during the 14th and 15th day of the first month in the Tibetan calendar. The fluttering prayer flags and magnificent stupas surround the shrine and create a spiritual environment.

Siddheshwar Dham

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Siddheshwar Dham,Sikkim_©Trawell.in

Located in Namchi, Siddheshwar Dham has tall statues of Lord Shiva. The Char Dham complex’s focal attraction is the 87 feet tall statue of Lord Shiva located on Solophok hills. The replica of Char Dham shrines and 12 jyotirlingas have been built on top of Solophok hill.

Do-Drul Chorten

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Do-Drul Chorten_©Goibibo.com

Do-Drul Chorten is a stupa located in Gangtok, Sikkim. Trulshik Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma order in 1945 built the stupa. There are 108 Mani Lhakor (prayer wheels). A set of Dorjee Phura, Kangyur (holy books), and other religious artifacts. 

Phodong Monastery

Phodong Monastery,Gangtok_©Trawell.in

Phodong Monastery is one of the six most important and one of the most beautiful monasteries in Sikkim state. The architecture of the building and the scenic beauty around it helps it be so. The spacious two-storeyed monastery is designed in Tibetan-style architecture with a uniqueness to it. The monastery has ancient murals and paintings attracting numerous tourists.

References: 

  1. Wikipedia (2022).Rumtek Monastery [online]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumtek_Monastery [Accessed date : 28 October,2022]
  2. Incredible India. Dubdi Monastery [online]. Available at: https://www.incredibleindia.org/content/incredibleindia/en/destinations/pelling/dubdi-monastery.html [Accessed date: 27 October,2022]
  3. Travelling Camera [online]. Namgyal Institute of Tibetology.[online] Available at :  https://www.travellingcamera.com/2017/10/namgyal-institute-of-tibetology_4.html [Accessed date: 27 October,2022]
  1. Cafe Kalimpong. A house without a single nail – The Dokemoo Lee [online]. Available at: https://www.cafekalimpong.com/post/a-house-without-a-single-nail-the-dokemoo-lee  [Accessed date : 28 October,2022]
  2. Wikipedia (2021). Enchey Monastery [online]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enchey_Monastery [Accessed date: 29 October,2022]
  3. Wikipedia (2022). Kirateshwar Mahadev Temple [online]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirateshwar_Mahadev_Temple [Accessed date: 27 October,2022]
  4. Pilgrimaide. Ganesh tok [online]. Available at: https://www.pilgrimaide.com/temples/ganesh-tok  [Accessed date: 27 October,2022]
  5. Indian Holiday Pvt. Ltd. Samdruptse Monastery [online]. Available at:  https://www.indianholiday.com/tourist-attraction/namchi/samdruptse-monastery.html [Accessed date: 29 October,2022]
  6. Tour My India Pvt. Norbugang Coronation Throne [online]. Available at:  https://www.tourmyindia.com/states/sikkim/norbugang-coronation-throne.html   [Accessed date: 27 October,2022]
  7. Wikipedia (2022). Pemayangtse Monastery [online]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pemayangtse_Monastery [Accessed date: 29 October,2022]
  8. Holidify. Rabdentse Ruins [online]. Available at:  https://www.holidify.com/places/west-sikkim/rabdentse-ruins-sightseeing-3962.html#:~:text=Rabdentse%20Ruins%20Structure,3%20standing%20stones%2C%20called%20Namphogang. [Accessed date : 28 October,2022]
  9. Tour My India Pvt. Tashiding monastery [online]. Available at:  https://www.tourmyindia.com/states/sikkim/tashiding-monastery.html [Accessed date: 29 October,2022]
  10. Trip Invites. Siddheshwara dham [online]. Available at: https://www.tripinvites.com/places/south-sikkim/siddheshwara-dham/ [Accessed date: 29 October,2022]
  11. Wikipedia. Do-drul Chorten [online].Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do-drul_Chorten#:~:text=Do%2Ddrul%20Chorten%20is%20a,Books)%20and%20other%20religious%20objects.  [Accessed date: 28 October,2022]
  12. Astrolika.com. Phodong Monastery [online]. Available at: https://www.astrolika.com/monasteries/phodong-monastery.html [Accessed date: 28 October,2022]
Author

Rucha Pimplapure is an architect and a research enthusiast from Pune. She believes that through a sensitive and holistic design approach, architecture can have a profound impact on the society and shape the cities we live in. She expresses her creative ideas by writing and sketching.

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