Rumtek Monastery is the largest monastery of Sikkim which served as the seat of Karma Kagyu Buddhism. The monastery was originally constructed about 300 years ago but it was not until Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa arrived here and decided to rebuilt it as his seat of power, that it gained preeminence. Ever since, Rumtek monastery has been an important center of Buddhism.
I visited Rumtek monastery in my trip to Gangtok. It is about 24 kilometers from Gangtok and it took us around 30 mins to reach Rumtek monastery from our hotel near the MG Marg. Vehicles are not allowed beyond a particular point, so we got down and had to walk uphill around half kilometer to reach the monastery. However, if you have physically challenged/old people with you, they allow you to drive to the monastery. Rumtek monastery is guarded by Indo Tibetian Border Police force after the political instability caused by the conflict regarding succession of the 17th Karmapa. Don't forget to carry a valid photo ID proof when you are visiting Rumtek monastery as it is checked by the ITBP personnel at the gate.
While walking on our left side there were beautiful metallic prayer wheels with Buddhist mantras embossed on them. These prayer wheels are meant to be rotated in clockwise direction, so while ascending don't go rotating the prayer wheels in anti clockwise direction. While descending, the prayer wheels fall to your right side and hence can be rotated in clockwise direction in sync with your natural movement.
Rumtek monastery is a colourful monastery set against a beautiful hill. The entry charges is Rs. 10 per person. You have to pass through a security check before entering into the monastery premises. On entering, there is a large open courtyard which has a stone pillar in the center. Visitors attempt to land a coin on top of this pillar by tossing it up and it is it is considered a lucky omen if you are able to land the coin in three attempts. The monastery has beautiful adorned walls and colourful ceilings. The colorful art work on the portico and the entrance door of the monastery is excellent.