Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Sikkim, India

This fantastic museum housed in a traditional Tibetan-style mansion boasts a jaw-dropping collection of artefacts related to Vajrayana Buddhism and Tibetan culture. Established in 1958 to promote scholastic and cultural research, its ground-floor hall displays Buddhist manuscripts, icons, thangkas (Tibetan cloth paintings) and Tantric ritual objects, such as a thöpa (bowl made from a human skull) and kangling (human thighbone trumpet). The library on the 1st floor houses precious Buddhist tomes, some dating back several hundred years.

The revamped souvenir store within the building sells a collection of ritual objects, jewellery, mementos, books and documentaries on Sikkimese tradition and culture.

Five minutes up the same road is the Do-Drul Chorten, a large white stupa surrounded by monks’ hostels and glass-walled galleries with countless flaming butter lamps burning within. Feel free to step in and light some as personal offerings (per lamp ₹7).

The institute sits in a shady grove and is close to the lower station of Damodar Ropeway, a cable car running to the Secretariat ridge with great views of town.

Visit India Epic India Route © Monika Newbound

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