Tashiding Main Gompa, Sikkim, India

Founded in 1641 by one of the three Yuksom crowning lamas, the monastery’s five colourful religious buildings are strung out between monks’ quarters. Beautifully proportioned, the four-storey main prayer hall has a delicate filigree topknot, with wonderful views across the semiwild flower garden towards Ravangla. The Dalai Lama chose the magical spot for a two-day meditation retreat in 2010.

Beyond the last monastic building, an unusual compound contains dozens of white chortens, including the Thongwa Rangdol, said to absolve the sins of anyone who gazes upon it. More visually exciting is the golden Kench Chorgi Lorde stupa. Propped up all around are engraved stones bearing the Buddhist mantra om mani padme hum; at the back of the compound is the engraver’s lean-to.

In February the monastery celebrates the Bumchu festival, when lamas gingerly open a sacred pot containing holy water and make important predictions by studying the level of water within.

Visit India Epic India Route © Monika Newbound

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