With a total of about 250 monasteries, the culture of Sikkim is closely linked to Tibetan Buddhism. Monasteries represent the monuments and historical places and form an integral part of Sikkim. Most monasteries belong to the Nyingmapa sect or the Kargyupa sect. Monasteries are almost always interpreted as "Gompas". This is however a misinterpretation. Gompa literally means "a place of solitude", a religious escape where monks are trained in the finer aspects of Tibetan Buddhism practiced here. Most Gompas in Sikkim are found in solitary places since isolation from the world has always been an important aspect for learning Buddhism, not as an act of self-punishment but merely as an escape from mundane temptations. Monasteries usually occupy commanding and frequently picturesque sites. A waterfall is however, considered a good omen and if one is visible from the monastery, then the door is made to face that direction. The monastic buildings cluster around the main building which is also used as the Assembly Hall or du-khang. Lining the approaches to the monastery are rows of prayer flags and chortens.
The largest monastery in the Eastern Himalaya, built by the Gyalwa Karmapa in strict accordance with the traditional designs of the Kagyurpa monastery in Tibet. Rumtek is the seat of Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. This magnificent Gompa is only 24 km from Gangtok. A fifteen minute walk downhill takes to the old monastery which was originally built in 1730 by the ninth Karmapa but was destroyed by fire and had to be reconstructed to the present state.
Pemayangtse literally means 'Perfect Sublime Lotus'. This is one of the oldest and most important monasteries of Sikkim. Founded in 1705, this monastery belongs to the Nyingma-pa sect. The three storied building of the monastery houses a good collection of wall paintings and sculptures. On the third floor of the monastery, there is a seven-tiered painted wooden model of the abode of Guru Rimpoche, complete with rainbows angels and the whole panoply of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. In January / February every year a religious dance called 'Cham' is performed in Pemayangtse.
This monastery is located in the Royal Palace premises near the Ridge Park in Gangtok. It is two storied and was used during royal function like weddings and coronations.
This monastery belongs to the Karma Kagyu order and was rebuilt by the government between 1975 and 1981. The monastery has around 100 monks.
The name of this 200 year old monastery means the Solitary temple. The monastery is famous for the mask dance called 'Cham' performed in the month of January.
Dodrul Chorten is a historical place in Sikkim located in Gangtok and was built in 1945-46, in accordance with a prophecy. Placed inside the Chorten are complete mandala set of Dorji Phurpa, one set of Ka-gyur holy Books, relics, complete 'zung' and other religious objects. It is one of the most important and biggest stupas found in Sikkim. Built by late Trulsi Rimpoche in 1945, Do-Drul Chorten is one of the most important and biggest stupas found in Sikkim. Chorten Lakhang and Guru Lhakhang surround the stupa, where there are two huge statues of Guru Rimpoche. Around the stupa, there are 108 prayer wheels. Complete mandala sets of Dorjee Phurba, a set of Kan-gyur relics (holy books), Zung (mantras) and other religious objects are present inside the stupa.
This monastery in North Sikkim was built in 1721. In 1947 it was completely gutted by fire and was rebuilt in 1948. There are around 300 monks in the monastery and the main annual function of the monastery is on the 28th & 29th days of the tenth month of the Tibetan calendar which roughly falls in the month of December / January.
Sanga Chelling Monastery
Sanga Chelling means 'the island of esoteric teaching'. This monastery was built in 1697 and is situated about seven km from Pemayangtse. It is about 45 minutes walk from Pelling and is the second oldest monastery of Sikkim.
This monastery the name of which means 'the retreat' was built in the 17th century. It is located near Yuksum on a hill top.
The historical place in Sikkim and the only fort of Sikkim is
Budang Gari Fort
This fort was built in between 1700 to 1717 A.D. during the Regin of Chogyal Chagdor Namgyal. As a minor Chagdor Namgyal was staying in Lhasa. After his return Pendi Wongmu, daughter of the first queen on Choygyal Tensung Namgyal who hailed from Bhutan challenged the succession of Choygyal Chagdor Namgyal and with the aid of the Bhutanese forces started to occupy Sikkim and tried to carve a kingdom of their own in Sikkim. They occupied the south eastern territory along with the Rabdentse Palace in west Sikkim. Chagdor Namgyal with the help of the Tibetian government drove out the Bhutanese forces from Sikkim. After this defeat the Bhutanese forces went back and after regrouping very soon made another attempt to capture Sikkim. However this time Chagdor Namgyal was ready for any attempt of Bhutanese forces to capture Sikkim and he put up a tough resistance to foil their attempt for the second time and according to some historians in this war kalimpong and its surrounding areas were lost by Sikkim forever. This fort was a half wooden structure with a thatched roof, the walls of the fort were made from big stones and half of the walls were made of wood. When the capital of Sikkim shifted from Tumlong to Gangtok the fort was abandoned and with the passage of time the roof of the fort was damaged due to weather conditions and water started to seep into the walls which damaged the wooden portion of the walls now the restoration of the fort is going on by the Cultural affairs and Heritage Department of Sikkim, and all the vegetation which had grown has been removed and the walls of the fort have been restored till the stone walls and the site is totally free for visiting tourists who wants to have a look at the one and only fort of the kingdom of Sikkim.