Rumtek Travel Guide
Rumtek 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 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 Tibet, the monastery 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. For example, flowing streams, mountains behind, a snow range in front, and a river below. With the generosity and help of the Sikkim royal family and the Indian government, it has been built by the 16th Karmapa as his main seat in exile.
After four years, construction of the monastery was completed. The sacred items and relics brought out from Tsurphu Monastery, 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 contains the relics of the 16th Karmapa. Opposite that building is a college, Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies.
Rumtek is located 24 km from Gangtok, the capital of the Sikkim, at an altitude of about 1500 m.
Rumtek was at the centre of the Karmapa controversy with a lengthy battle being played out in the Indian courts. Two rival organisations, both supporting different candidates for the 17th Karmapa claimed stewardship of the monastery and its contents. The two organisations are the Karmapa Charitable Trust (supporting Thaye Dorje) and the Tsurphu Labrang (supporting Ogyen Trinley Dorje). Currently neither candidate resides at Rumtek.