Lingdum Monastery, East Sikkim

Even though Rumtek is the most well-known monastery on Gangtok tourism map there are many more scattered all around the city albeit on different hilltops. On my solo trip last year I visited Ray Monastery where I was fortunate enough to observe my first ever chham dance. En route Ray from Gangtok there comes a little bifurcation which leads to the hills of Ranka village. Perched on the village hilltop is Lingdum Monastery; perhaps the largest of all gompas of East Sikkim.

It was peak monsoon when we visited Lingdum. Clouds looming over the hills were making the place look almost surreal. Unlike the neighbour Darjeeling most places in Sikkim hasn't given in to the lures of tourism yet. Ranka is one of such place. The last stretch of the road leading up to the gompa was quite bad in condition. The vertiginous bends were only getting worse with increasing jaggedness; making us jump off our seats quite a number of times.

Lingdum Monastery was built in 1999. Tucked away amidst dense woods this monastery houses one of the largest idols of Buddha in India. The natural beauty coupled with its serene vastitude makes Lingdum stand out despite its lack of historical or political significance. Like most other monasteries of Sikkim this one too follows the Kagyu sect of Vajrayana. However, their sub-sect is known as Zurmang Kagyupa School of Vajrayana. Zurmang is the Tibetan nomadic tribe originating from a region of the same name in eastern Tibet. Zurmang tribe is known as one of the poorest tribes in the world.

Ray Gompa can be seen from Lingdum

How to Reach Lingdum:

Ranka village is almost an hour of uphill drive from Gangtok via Rumtek. Even though the distance is only 20km it's the bad condition of road that prolongs the journey. And be ready to endure the bumps. Lingdum doesn't come under any of the standard tourist packages that usually operate in Gangtok. Our driver was impressed with my enthusiasm and knowledge in Vajrayana so he was kind enough to take us there. But even if you are not into the philosophy and rituals of Tibetan Buddhism you can visit this gompa just to experience its sheer grandeur and beauty.