Rumtek Monastery, located at a distance of 23 kms from Gangtok, is one of the most significant and largest monasteries in Sikkim. It is perched on a hill overlooking Gangtok so you will find vantage points from where you can enjoy amazing views of Gangtok on the opposite hill.
The three-storeyed building of the Rumtek monastery houses some of the rarest Buddhist religious artworks in the form of murals, thangkas (scrolls with intricate hand paintings), miniature golden models of Buddha (close to a thousand of them!), numerous religious scriptures as well as a 10-feet-high statue of Sakyamuni Buddha.
When you enter the ground floor of the main monastery building you will be greeted by a colourful prayer hall ornamented with hand-painted Tibetan wall murals, silk paintings and statues. Slap-bang in the middle is a giant yellow throne awaiting the long-overdue coronation of the Kagyu spiritual leader, the (disputed) 17th Karmapa. Bit of a bummer because you won't be allowed to use your camera inside. Behind the monastery, stairs rise beside the distinctively painted Karma Shri Nalanda Institute of Buddhist Studies, leading quickly to a smallish room that contains an ornate Golden Stupa (studded with turquoise and amber gemstones) made of pure gold. No camera allowed here too for obvious reasons.
October to mid-December is the best time to visit Rumtek Monastery, which is at a distance of 673 kms (16.5 hours ) from Kolkata by road. The nearest airport is Bagdogra (126 km south). There are jeeps, taxis and private vehicles available from Bagdogra airport and from Gangtok Helipad to reach the monastery. The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri.