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The Buddhist experience 12D/11N

The Highlights

  • Resum Monastery
  • Rinchenpong
  • Mount Khangchendzonga (8,598 meter ASL, the world’s 3rd highest mountain)
  • Tshom-Go Lake
  • Pelling
  • Karthok Lake
  • Khechupalri Lake
  • Pemayangtse Monastery

Description

The Buddhist experience is a unique opportunity to get an insight view of Buddhism. During the tour, we will visit famous monasteries in Sikkim and you will stay some days in a real monastery. You can experience the day to day life of a monk during your stay. You will get lectures about Buddhism and yoga, meditation courses and practices every morning. The Buddhist experience is your chance to get away from the hectic world we’re living in.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at Bagdogra Airport – Travel to Gangtok

  • Upon, arrival at Bagdogra Airport, meeting service with our representative and introducing the drivers and the team. Today we drive to Gangtok, a distance of 120km and a trip of 4hrs. We take a break at Rangpo for some refreshments and to arrange the border formalities. When we arrive in Gangtok, we check-in our hotel. Rest of the afternoon is free for leisure. At 6 PM our representative will give you more info about the program of this tour and you will get an introduction to the history and Buddhism in Sikkim by our Guide.
  • Dinner and Overnight at the Hotel

Day 2: Buddhist monastic tour

  • We start day 2 of the Buddhist experience with a meditation & Yoga program in the morning, supervised by our Meditation teacher. Besides some talks, you will get your first meditation experience. After the meditation, your breakfast is served.
  • After breakfast, we leave for the Rumtek Monastery/Dharma Chakra Centre (24 kms/1 hr). The Rumtek Monastery belongs to the Kagyu sect of Buddhism. The monastery is said to be a replica of Tshurpu monastery in Tibet and is founded as the official seat in exile to His Holiness The Karmapa. He is the head of the Kagyu lineage by the Late 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.The Rumtek monastery is built in the mid-1700’s and is regarded as one of the major Kagyupa Monasteries in Sikkim. When Ranjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa arrived in Sikkim after fleeing Tibet, the place was in ruins. Despite being offered other sites, the Karmapa decided to rebuild Rumtek and the monastery became the official seat in exile to the Karmapa’s.
  • Later on, we drive back to Gangtok to visit the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (it’s the only museum of its kind in the whole of India). The museum is housed in a traditional Tibetan-style mansion. They have a jaw-dropping collection of artifacts related to Vajrayana Buddhism and the Tibetan culture. It was established in 1958 to promote scholastic and cultural research. The ground-floor of the hall display Buddhist manuscripts, icons, thangkas (Tibetan cloth paintings) and Tantric ritual objects, such as a Thöpa (a bowl made from a human skull) and Kangling (human thighbone trumpet). The library on the 1st floor houses precious Buddhist tomes, some of which are several hundred years old.
  • After our lunch at the Hotel, we drive to the Enchey Monastery.  It is an important seat of the Nyingmapa order. This Monastery was build on a site above Gangtok and blessed by Lama Drupthop Karpo.  A tantric master, known for his power of flying. Initially, only a small Gumpa was established by him after he flew from Maenam Hill in South Sikkim to this site.  The present Enchey monastery was rebuilt by the 10th Chogyal Sidkyong Tulku in 1908. The literal meaning of Enchey Monastery is the “Solitary Monastery”. The Monastery belongs to the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism. It’s believed that Khanchendzonga and Yabdean – the protecting deities – reside in this monastery. As, according to a legend, Guru Padmasambhava had subdued the spirits of the Khanchendzonga, Yabdean, and Mahakala here. Given this legend, the religious significance of Enchey Monastery is deeply ingrained in every household in Gangtok. It is also believed that these powerful deities always fulfill the wishes of the devotees. Enchey Monastery is one of the holiest Monasteries of Sikkim.
  • In the evening, we will teach you about the 3 different communities of Sikkim, the Bhutia, the Lepcha & the Nepali. The talk of today, given by our Sikkim guide, focuses most on Lepchas, the oldest known inhabitant of Sikkim.
  • Dinner and Overnight at the Hotel.

Day 3: Meditation/ Retreat & Village Excursion

  • Like most days of this tour, we start our day with meditation. Today our teacher will lead the group to the core and the benefits of meditation according to the Buddhist religious points of views. Buddhist meditation refers to the meditative practices associated with the religion and philosophy of Buddhism. Buddhist meditation encompasses a variety of meditation techniques that aim to develop mindfulness, concentration, supramundane powers, tranquility and insight.
  • After lunch, we drive to the nearby Rey-Mendu village. In this community, we can see and understand the lifestyle of the Lepchas and the Bhutia’s. The evening is followed by a Cultural program by local people, and we will enjoy local dinner in the village.
  • Drive back and Overnight at the hotel.

Day 4: Gangtok- Namthang-Nagi Gumpa

  • Like every day, we start our day with the meditation & Yoga program in the morning. Some talks followed by meditation exercises. Breakfast is served after.
  • After breakfast, we check out from the hotel and set way to South Sikkim, to one of the ancient monasteries just above Namthang. The monastery was build about 100 years ago after the Land lord named Bermiok Athing donated 9 acres of land for building a monastery for the religious needs of the local people. Accordingly, a Lepcha Lama called Sonam Rinchhen took the lead in building a small monastery on the ruined sites in 1914 on the advice of Kyabje Sitrul Rinpoche (Chhogyal Sidkyeong Tulku). When the number of the monks were increased, the small old monastery was dismantled and rebuilt it in 1933 by extending its size to be able to accommodate more lamas.  In later decades, when Sir Tashi Namgyal and Lt. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India visited this monastery, they noticed a beautiful Lake situated close to the monastery. Therefore, the Chhogyal named the monastery “Norbu Tsholing” which means ‘a place having Gem-Lake’. Since that day, the monastery became more important to the people living in the surrounding areas. However, later, the Lake dried up due to the implementation of an unsuccessful rainwater-harvesting scheme. The monastery follows the Nyingma Sect of Kadue Choki Gyatso lineage and performs ceremonies throughout the year.*During Our stay here we sleep in a tent (twin sharing) in front of the monastery itself. The meditation and yoga sessions will be conducted in the main prayer hall (Lhakhang) of the monastery.

Day 5: Hike/Nature walks

  • After our daily meditation & Yoga program and breakfast, we walk to the most Serene and scenic hilltop in the neighborhood, called Nagi Dara. The hilltop has a breathtaking view on the surrounding villages, valleys, rivers and mighty mountains. In short, this is a true ‘Refuge.’ The hiking trail will lead us through the pine forest, a perfect moment to enjoy the rich flora and fauna of this area. In the evening you will be introduced to the different communities living in the area. You will learn about their tradition, their culture, and their lifestyle. Our teacher will also tell you all about the history of the monastery followed by the briefing about the program/activities of the following day
  • Overnight on the camping site

Day 6: Village walks/ Study about Culture & Traditions

  • As usual, we start our day with the meditation & Yoga program in the morning.After our breakfast, we go for a walk in the surrounding village, to see, experience and study the culture, traditions & lifestyle of the people living there. Our guide will act as an interpreter during the study course with the local villagers. During our visit, you are introduced to the traditional bamboo Archery of the Gumpa area. It is part of the old culture and heritage of the state. The traditional archery was the National game of Sikkim when Sikkim was an independent country before 1975. Traditionally, the archery games in Sikkim were held after harvest. It was a way for villagers to get together in the inactive farming season. In recent years, it there is a revival of the archery in Sikkim as an attempt to revive their cultural identity. In the evening we can witness a traditional cultural/dance show of the villagers and enjoy local food for dinner. In the evening, we return to the campsite.
  • Overnight on the camping site.

Day 7: Nagi-Borong (5800 fts/75 kms/4 hrs)

  • We start the day with the meditation & Yoga program in the morning supervised by our guide followed by talks and a meditation experience. Breakfast will be served after. The rest of the day is scheduled to drive to Borong, a 75 kms/4 hrs drive to the southern part of Sikkim and a place famous for two of the major hot springs (natural spa) and also for one of the famous Kagyu Monastery named Ralang Monastery. The drive is via Namchi and Ravangla with a beautiful view of the valleys and mountains and through the forest. The forest is rich with floras, faunas & Avi-faunas.
  • In the evening time, we planned another talk about the different communities living in the area, about the tradition & culture and the lifestyle of the people and also the history related to the place.
  • Overnight at the Hotel.

Day 8: Borong Tsha-chu (Hitch Hike)

  • After our daily meditation & Yoga program and breakfast, we drive to the Ralang Monastery. The Ralang Monastery belongs to the Kagyu-pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. According to a legend, Ralang was built after the fourth Chogyal came back from his pilgrimage. According to the legend, when the 9th Karmapa performed the Rabney (blessing), he threw grains from his residence in Tshurpu Monastery in Tibet. The place where the seeds fell eventually became the site for the Ralang Monastery. The monastery has an extensive collection of paintings and Thangkas. From here, we walk downhill towards the Rangit valley (easy trail) to reach the hot spring. The hot spring is considered as a natural spa, and the water is very good for your skin.
  • Hot Lunch will be served at the Hot spring site. Afterward, we hike back to Ralang and drive back to our hotel in Borong.
  • Overnight in the Hotel.

Day 9: Borong-Pelling (6250 fts/66 kms/4 hrs)

  • Daily meditation & Yoga program in the morning. After breakfast, checkout and drive to Ravangla to Visit Tatagatha-Tsal (Buddha Park). This Buddha Park features a 130-foot high statue of the Buddha as its centerpiece. The site was chosen within the larger religious complex of the Rabong Gumpa, which is a pilgrimage for centuries. The statue was consecrated on 25 March 2013 by the 14th Dalai Lama and became a stop on the Himalayan Buddhist Circuit. The statue of the Buddha marks the occasion of the 2550th birth anniversary of Gautama Buddha. After spending some time here, we drive to Pelling in West Sikkim. Pelling is a fast growing tourist destination. Situated in a small hamlet on the hilltop, it offers the closest view on Mt.Khanchendzonga and its adjacent peaks. Formerly known as Paradzong, meaning the “land between two great monasteries” it is situated between the Great Pemayangtse Monastery & the Sangachoeling Monastery. These Monasteries belong to the Nyingma-Pa order of Tibetan Buddhism, and both of them were built in the beginning period of the Namgyal dynasty of Sikkim. This dynasty ruled this tiny Himalayan kingdom for 333 years ending its reign in 1975 when Sikkim was merged into the Indian Union, and the Kingdom was converted.
  • Overnight in Hotel.

Day 10: Sightseeing

  • Our day starts early with yoga and meditation in the hall of the Hotel. Today we will learn about the benefits of Yoga and meditation.
  • After breakfast, we drive to Khechupalri Lake, a one-hour drive from Pelling. Pelling is an unusual calm and placid lake, located in the midst of a dense forest. It is considered sacred, by both Buddhist and the Hindus, who come here to make a wish. For both religions, it is a pilgrimage site in Sikkim. From here we drive for another hour to reach Yuksum. Yuksum is the first capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Sikkim and the place where we visit the Norbu Ghang Coronation Throne. It’s on this throne that the first king of Sikkim was coroneted. The first stone throne marks the place where the coronation took place. An unusual footprint on a rock is believed to be left by one first of the three monks coming here.  Meaning that the history of Sikkim’s erstwhile monarch starts from this very own place dating back to 1641-42 A.D. Yuksum is still a village, but the place is full of trekkers and backpackers as it’s the start of the famous Dzongri-Goechala trek. We will arrive back in the Hotel in the late afternoon. Rest of the day free for leisure.In the evening, our guide will talk about places in this area, Khanchendzonga, and their Importance.Dinner and Overnight in the Hotel.

Day 11: Excursion to Buddhist sites

  • The day starts with yoga and meditation in the hall of the Hotel.
  • After breakfast, we drive to Pemayangtse Monastery (2 km). The Pemayangtse Monastery (1705 A.D.) belongs to the Nyingma-pa order of Tibetan Buddhism and is also the most important Nyingma monastery. It’s the only monastery with a direct religious access to the Royal family of Sikkim. Originally built by Lhatsun Chempo in the 17th century, as a small Lhakhang, it was subsequently enlarged during the reign of the third Chogyal Chakdor Namgyal. He was considered as Lhatsun Chenpo’s third reincarnate, Jigme Pawo. The monastery follows the Nyingma Order of Tibet Buddhism and controls all other monasteries of that Order in Sikkim. The monks of this monastery are normally chosen from the Bhutia’s of Sikkim. The monastery was built for “pure monks” (ta-tshang) meaning “monks of pure Tibetan lineage”, celibate and without any physical abnormality. This practice is still retained. Only the monks of Pemayangtse Monastery are entitled to the title “ta-tshang”. The head lama of this monastery had the unique privilege of anointing the Chogyal of the erstwhile monarchy of Sikkim with holy water. Pemayangtse means “Perfect Sublime Lotus”, and is said to represent one of the four plexus of the human body. Later on, we visit Rabdentse Palace ruins, the 2nd capital of Sikkim from 1670 to 1814. From the vantage point of this former capital, you have a superb view on the Khanchendzonga. The Palace ruins have been declared as a national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India. It’s 30 minutes walk from the main road through a rich forest with a C.C. Footpath to reach the Palace.
  • We drive back to Pelling for lunch and after lunch, we drive halfway to Bhanjyang from where we start a hike (30 minutes) on the ridges with a beautiful view of the villages and valleys on both sides. Our hike takes us to the Sangachoeling Monastery on the top of the hill. The meaning of Sangachoeling is “Island of the Guhyamantra teachings”, where gling means a vihara and “Secret Mantra teachings” is a synonym for Vajrayana Buddhism. Built in the year 1697 A.D. by Lhatsun Chempo, it belongs to the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is also known as the place of arcane spells. It has clay statues dating back to the 17th century. The monastery was affected by fire several times and was rebuilt. The Monastery’s location provides very scenic and panoramic views all rounds.
  • Overnight at the Hotel.

Day 12: Bagdogra

After breakfast, we check out and drive to Bagdogra. A 140 km drive that takes about 6 hours via Jorethang town, Melli (Border town) and Teesta before reaching down to the plains of India and the airport. As this is the end of our tour, we say goodbye and wish you a pleasant journey to your next destination or a safe trip home.

Included

  • Accommodation on a twin or triple sharing basis
  • Meal plan MAP (bed, breakfast, and dinner)
  • No charges for children below the age of 5. Children between 5 and 10 years old get a 50% discount.
  • Transport: our luxury vehicles (Innova, Xylo, Scorpio or similar) transport a maximum of 6 passengers.
  • All sightseeing and excursions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Parking fees
  • Professional English speaking guide
  • All taxes and services

Excluded

  • Insurance: we firmly advise taking a travel insurance as nature can be unpredictable in this mountainous area. 
  • Airport tax and Porter
  • Flight and train ticket
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, tips, and phone calls
  • Mineral water, soft and alcoholic drinks
  • Additional adventurous activities such as rafting, rock climbing, and paragliding
  • Additional sightseeing or extra usage of the vehicle, other than mentioned in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees and camera charges
  • Any additional costs due to natural calamities such as landslides, road blockage, political disturbances (strikes) etcetera (extra costs will be charged to the client and have to be paid on the spot).
  • Charges for room heater
  • Anything not specified in the inclusive list

What to bring

Notes

Please contact us at info@mundooz.com if you have any questions about this tour.

Visa and entry formalities

Apart from a visa for India, foreigners must also obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP – free permit) to visit Sikkim. This 30-day permit is issued on the spot when you provide photocopies of your passport and visa along with two passport photos. The permission can be extended for another 30 days. The ILP permit is issued at the border, and your guides will arrange it for you.

Best time to visit

Sikkim has two main seasons:

  • From the end of February until the end of May
  • From the end of September until the end of December

The rainy season is in June, July, August and halfway through September. It is better to avoid these months.

The best period for trekking is from November until May. If you want to see the beautiful flowers at the Yumthang Valley, also known as “the valley of flowers,” and the rhododendron sanctuary, you should visit between March and May.

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