Enchey Monastery Gangtok
This monastery is located at a higher altitude on a steep road, about a kilometer from the White Hall and next to the looming TV Tower. If you are staying at Hotel Mount Siniolcu, you can easily walk up to this monastery. It's famous for its Chinese Pagoda style design.
More than 200 years ago, this was the site of Lama Dhrupthob Karpo, a celebrated lama and tantric who performed superhuman feats. The legend says that he actually flew in from South Sikkim to this site. He is known to have founded the monastery in 1840.
Enchey monastery was later rebuilt in the year 1908 by the 10th King of Sikkim - Sikyong Tulku. The monastery follows an unique architecture which is an artistic adaptation of Gyanak Riwo Tse-Nga or the sacred mountain with five peaks in China - which is the spiritual place of Jampalyang who was a disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni. He is known as the god of knowledge to the northern Buddhists. The monastery is therefore one of the most recognized ones in the whole of Sikkim.
Enchey Monastery Gangtok
Like most other monasteries in Sikkim, Enchey monastery too follows Nyingma Order of Buddhism (i.e. Red Hat sect), and this is quite understandable because the three lamas who came to Sikkim from Tibet in 1641 and initiated a kingdom here, were all from Nyingma or Red Hat sect.
There is only one monastery in Sikkim that belongs to Yellow Hat (i.e. Gelugpa Sect) and that is in Nathang Valley, and there are only handful that belong to Kagyupa Sect including Rumtek Monastery
at Rumtek (22kms from Gangtok) and Phodong Monastery (38kms from Gangtok).
When Gangtok was established as the capital of Sikkim, the Tsuklakhang Monastery
was built within the palace compound for the Royal family to offer prayers, but there had to be a religious place for the common mass of the city as well. So Enchey monastery was built to fulfill that need.
Prayer Wheels (to the left) at Enchey Monastery
Photo: Kothanda Srinivasan, cc by 2.0
The main building or the shrine of the monastery is known as the Lhakhang. There are few other buildings here that are used as the residence of the lamas and for other official work, but they are separated from the Lhakhang of Enchey Monastery.
The rectangular and tapering main shrine has two stories (the upper storey is much smaller in size) with a golden top. There is a pradakhsina path around the Lhakhang. A few steps lead up to a veranda and then there is one large entrance door to the Lhakhang. The entrance door has paintings depicting the Kings of four cardinal directions that protect the monastery and the universe.
The walls of veranda have paintings of various monsters. In order to protect these paintings from weather elements, there are large curtains used on the outsides of the Veranda that are made of yak hair. These curtains also help in keeping the building warm during the winter months.
As you step inside the Lhakhang, you will be filled with a strange ambience. Other than the main entrance door, there are no other doors or windows in the main building, and therefore the lights are low inside. Straight ahead is the seat of all the deities, and between the main door and the seat, there are two rows of floor-to-ceiling pillars on two sides dividing the room into three parts. And, in front of the pillars are a series of low tables and stools for lamas to sit.
Pillar inside Lhakhang of Enchey Monastery
Photo: Bernard Gagnon, cc by sa 4.0
Walk up to the seat of the deities... straight ahead is the model of Rinponche Padmasambhava with his two wives sitting on two sides and several other smaller models of gods and goddesses. Lit up earthen lamps are placed in front of them.
Look around and you will see numerous murals and fresco paintings on the walls. You will find paintings showing Buddha along with his 16 disciples, the principal lamas from Tibet etc.
And you will find religious books that are kept in cabinets engraved in the walls. Pages of these are handmade. They are 6-inch by 2-foot in size, and are very hardy. Enchey monastery possesses mainly some of the volumes from the Buddhist religious book 'Kangyur' whose content are mainly the Tripitaka and different Mantras that are practised by the lamas.
A stairway from the veranda outside the ground floor main hall leads to the upper floor, which has a smaller hall and smaller sized statues of deities. However, the deities here look quite frightening... there is a model of Kali, Mahakal and the deity Hayagriva with a horse's head, among others. There is also a circular 'Jeevan Chakra' which is the main creation of Tibetan Buddhists.
Chaam which is a masked religious dance of the Buddhists, is performed on 28th and 29th day of Buddhist calendar year which usually falls in December.
Admission & Hours
There is no admission fee. The monastery is open for visitors everyday between 6am to 4pm.
How to reach
Enchey monastery is covered under standard local tours offered by the taxi drivers. You can also take a taxi from Gangtok town and reach the monastery in about 10 minutes.
Share your experience.