24 kms and about 45 minutes drive away on the hill opposite Gangtok is the Rumtek Monastery, The Dharma Chakra Centre and the seat of his holiness ‘The Gyalwa Karmapa’ who is the head of the Kagyupa order of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Kagyupa sect of Buddhism has its origins in Tibet since 12th century. It is said that after the first Karmapa spent many years meditating in a cave, ten thousand fairies came to congratulate him and each offered a strand hair. These strand of hair were woven into a black hat. This black hat come to be passed down and is still at the Rumtek Monastery. It is said that unless held with the hand, or kept in a box, it will fly away. It was worm by the Karmapas on ceremonial occasions.
The Monastery is certainly the largest in Sikkim and is a good example of fine Tibetan architecture.A fifteen to twenty minute walk downhill from the main Monastery takes one to the old Rumtek Monastery, which was first built in 1730 by the ninth Karmapa but was destroyed due to a fire and had to be reconstructed to its present state.The new Monastery is almost a replica of the original Kagyu headquarter in Tibet.
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