Gangtok - Culture - City Institutions

City Institutions

A centre of Buddhist learning and culture, Gangtok's most notable Buddhist institutions are the Enchey monastery, the Do-drul Chorten stupa complex and the Rumtek Monastery. The Enchey monastery is the city's oldest monastery and is the seat of the Nyingma order. The two-hundred year old baroque monastery houses images of gods, goddesses, and other religious artifacts. In the month of January, the Chaam, or masked dance, is performed with great fanfare. The Dro-dul Chorten is a stupa which was constructed in 1945 by Trulshi Rimpoché, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism. Inside this stupa are complete set of relics, holy books, and mantras. Surrounding the edifice are 108 Mani Lhakor, or prayer wheels. The complex also houses a religious school.

The Rumtek Monastery on the outskirts of the town is one of Buddhism's most sacred monasteries. The monastery is the seat of the Kagyu order, one of the major Tibetan sects, and houses some of the world's most sacred and rare Tibetan Buddhist scriptures and religious objects in its reliquary. Constructed in the 1960s, the building is modeled after a similar monastery in Lhasa, Tibet. Rumtek was the focus of international media attention in 2000 after the seventeenth Karmapa, one of the four holiest lamas, fled Lhasa and sought refuge in the monastery.

The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, better known as the Tibetology Museum, houses a huge collection of masks, Buddhist scriptures, statues, and tapestries. It has over two hundred Buddhist icons, and is a centre of study of Buddhist philosophy.

The Thakurbari Temple, located in the heart of the city, established in 1935 on a prime piece of land donated by the then Maharaja of Sikkim is one of the oldest and best known Hindu temple in the city. The Ganesh Tok and the Hanuman Tok, dedicated to the Hindu gods Ganpati and Hanuman and housing important Hindu deities, are located in the upper reaches of the city.

The Himalayan Zoological Park exhibits the fauna of the Himalayas in their natural habitats. The zoo features the Himalayan Black Bear, the barking deer, the snow leopard, the leopard cat, Tibetan wolf, Masked Palm Civet, red pandas and the spotted deer amongst the others. Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Gardens, near Rumtek, houses many species of orchid and as many as fifty different species of tree, including many oaks.

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