Rumtek Monastery (also called the Dharmachakra Centre), is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in the Indian state of Sikkim near the capital Gangtok. Originally built by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje in the 16th century, Rumtek served as the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in Sikkim for some time.

But when the 16th Karmapa arrived in Sikkim in 1959, after fleeing before the Chinese occupation of Tibet, it was in ruins. Despite being offered other sites, the Karmapa decided to rebuild Rumtek. To him, the site possessed many auspicious qualities and was surrounded by the most favorable attributes like flowing streams, mountains behind, a snow range in front, and a river below.

After four years, the construction of the monastery was completed. The sacred items and relics brought out from Tsurphu, the Karmapa’s seat in Tibet, were installed. On Tibetan New Year’s day (Losar) in 1966, the 16th Karmapa officially inaugurated the new seat called, “The Dharmachakra Centre, a place of erudition and spiritual accomplishment, the seat of the glorious Karmapa.”

The monastery is currently the largest in Sikkim. It is home to the community of monks and where they perform the rituals and practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage. A golden stupa is situated inside the monastery which contains the remains of the 16th Karmapa. The complex of this entire monastery includes a shrine, the main monastery, a retreat center, a patron shrine, a Dharamshala for the devotees, a Vidyapeeth for the monks, and several institutions for some establishments. Opposite that building is a college, Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies.

This monastery is built in the style of typical Tibetan architecture. The interiors’ creations include mural paintings, frescoes, handicrafts, and sculptures in which they emphasize their culture and religion.

The main temple is in the main building of the monastery which is composed of four floors with a golden statue installed that adorns its terrace. This temple is built in such a way that represents the 5 families of Buddha – Amithab (Chakra), Vairochana (bell), Amoghasiddhi (Kalash), Akshobya, and Ratnasambhava (Ratna).

This whole structure of the monastery is surrounded by lush green mountains and by coming here you can experience a breath of peace away from all worries and struggle. 

Rumtek is located 24 km away from Gangtok at an altitude of about 1500 m.

Tourists can avail of a private taxi from Gangtok to reach Rumtek Monastery. A  shared vehicle from Gangtok Taxi Jeep Service Stand is another alternative. There is also a bus service to Rumtek.