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Phodong Monastery

 

Phodong Monastery is one of the six major monasteries of Sikkim, belonging to the Kagyut Order. Phodong Monastery / Phodang Monastery is a Buddhist religious seat in Sikkim, India. It is known as Karma Thubten Tashi Chokhorling and is a major Kagyupa Sect Monastery. It is located approximately 35 kilometres from Gangtok. It was built in the early 18th century but an older monastery had pre-existed the current one. This Monastery was oroiginally  founded by the fourth King Gyurmed Namgyal but unfortunately, he passed away in 1734 i.e. two years after the demise of the 12th Karmapa Lama but the Lamas completed the Monastery in 1740 A.D.

In the course of time, an earthquake damaged the old structure and had to be dismantled. The Lamas rebuilt a new Monastery it in 1977 which was bigger in size than the previous Monastery. While reconstructing, the experts of National Museum Institute extracted the old fresco paintings before the old structure was dismantled. These painting are now being preserved by the department for restoration in the new Monastery building. This gonpa came into international limelight through the writings of the famous French explorer Alexander David Neel. He spent some years here learning Buddhism in the begining of 1912 under the guidance of the third Lachen Gomchen whom she accepted as her Teacher. She practiced meditation in a cave near the vicinity of this gonpa. She was patronized by Chogyal Sidkyong Tulku who also gifted her a Buddha Statue which was returned to this Gonpa after her death in 1969. Some of her photos can be seen in the first floor of the Gonpa. The gonpa is located about 38 kilometers from Gangtok on the way. It is located approximately 38 kilometers from Gangtok.  Four kilometers beyond Phodong is the recently renovated Labrang Monastery, unique in its architectural design.

9th Karmapa was invited by the king of Sikkim, where he founded three monasteries : Rumtek, one of the most important monastery of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, Phodong and Ralang Monastery.Like the Ralong and Rumtek the main annual Puja is performed on the 28th & 29th days of the tenth month of the Tibetan Calender when the religious dances are performed.

It was reconstructed by Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal, who was recognized as the reincarnation of his uncle, Sidkeong Namgyal, the abbot of the monastery. The line was to be continued by Palden Thondup Namgyal

The monastery has a residence of approximately 260 monks and has a numerous collection of some ancient murals.The monastery is one of the important places of tourist‘s interest in North Sikkim. The main festival is an annual mask dance fair in winter corresponding to the month of December to January.

Communication

Phodong is located approximately 35 kilometres from the center of Gangtok and its walkable distance from the capital of Sikkim. Nearest airport is located at Bagdogra Airport (IXB) in West Bengal which is around 164 kilometers from Gangtok. Flight from here connect to destinations like Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Paro, Bangkok, Mumbai and Guwahati. From Bagdogra Airport (IXB) airport daily helicopter services reach Gangtok and requires early bookings. Nearest railway link is New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) at a distance of 164 kilometers from Gangtok. Trains from here link to destinations like Kolkata, Delhi and Guwahati. From New Jalpaiguri jeeps are available to bring you to Gangtok and then to Phodong after the permit for North Sikkim is done (It  generally requires one night stay in Gangtok). NH 10 connects Gangtok to Kolkata via Teesta Bazaar and Rangpo. Private vehiclesare available if booked early as there is shortage of registered Taxi.

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