India // Sikkim //


Considered the holiest in Sikkim, the beautiful gompa of Tashiding occupies the point of a conical hill 19km southeast of Yoksum, high above the confluence of the Rangit and the Rathong. “The Devoted Central Glory” was built in 1717, after a rainbow was seen to connect the site to Kanchenjunga. While a new road has eaten its way through the forest to the monastery, the climb is still recommended – the well-marked path leaves the main road near an impressive mani wall (inscribed with the mantra Om mani padme hum: “Hail the jewel in the lotus” in silver paint) and leads steeply past rustic houses and fields and along a final flag-lined approach. The large complex consists of a motley collection of buildings, chortens, chapels and the unassuming main temple itself, which was recently rebuilt using some of the features and wooden beams of the original. At the far end of the temple complex, surrounded by numerous multicoloured mani stones inscribed with a mantra, is an impressive array of chortens containing relics of Sikkim’s chogyals and lamas. On the fifteenth day of the first month of the Tibetan New Year, devotees from all over Sikkim gather in Tashiding for the Nyingmapa Bhumchu festival, when they are blessed with the holy water from an ancient bowl said by legend never to dry up. Oracles consult the water’s level to determine the future.