Though Lingdum or Ranka Monastery is a fairly new addition to Sikkim’s vast collection of Buddhist monasteries, it certainly takes away the reward for being the most scenic of all. Resting pretty on the same range of mountain as Rumtek, the Lingdum monastery was founded by Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche, the 12th incarnation of Zurmang Gharwang of Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Though the construction began in the year 1992, it was only inaugurated in 1999.
What to see
This magnificent monastery complex is expanded over a sprawling 21 acres of the richly forested mountainside and offers a splendid view of the majestic mountains that surrounds it. As you enter, you will be welcomed by a pattern of elegantly sculpted prayer wheels. Right in the middle of the complex is a large courtyard with an attractive main temple at its center. Inside the main prayer hall rests a giant gilded statue of Buddha, 5 meters tall, with another smaller one of Guru Padmasambhava by its side. It also houses a rare collection of Buddhist manuscripts. The walls are decorated with intricate thangka paintings and vibrant hand-stitched wall-hangings.
The monastery complex also has a restaurant and a small souvenir shop for visitors next to the car park.
When to reach
Like all other places in Sikkim, the best time to visit is during the months of March to May and September to October. However, if you are a culture buff who is keen on exploring monasteries, you should visit during Lhosar i.e the Tibetan New Year. Most monasteries celebrate it with great tradition and enjoyment. Just two days before Lhosar which usually falls sometime between the months of January and February, another festival called Gutor is celebrated at the Lingdum Monastery. Incredible masked dances are performed to symbolize the victory of good over evil. It is certainly a treat for your eyes!
How to reach
The Lingdum Monastery is about 16 km away from the main city of Gangtok, in a small village called Ranka. Another famous attraction called Banjhakri Falls is on the same route. The road to the monastery is not in good condition so it is advisable to hire a larger car to take you there from Gangtok.