Location of Tashiding Monastery
Geographically this monastery is located at an altitude of 1465 m at the top of the hill. Centrally located between Rathong Chu and Rangeet River, this monastery is surrounded with the scenic beauty of the Kanchenjunga Peak which forms the backdrop of the monastery. The monastery is 40 kilometres from Gyalshing and 19 kilometres to the south east of Yuksom.
Foundation of Tashiding Monastery
Tashiding Monastery, meaning "The Devoted Central Glory", was established by one of the three wise men who held the consecration ceremony of the first ruler of Sikkim. Originally established by Ngadak Sempa Chempo Phunshok Rigzing in 1641, it was renovated in 1717. With its renovation, the monastery was extended and included among the major monasteries of Sikkim.
Legend of Tashiding Monastery
Sikkimese believe that just a glimpse of the nearby famous Chorten of the holy lama Thongwa Randol, is powerful enough to cleanse one’s soul. Tashiding Monastery is well known for its legends. According to the popular legend, the monastery is located in the place which was selected by Guru Padmasambhava. To select the place, he shot an arrow in the air and wherever the arrow fell he sat there for meditation. It was on this auspicious site that the Tashiding monastery was constructed later on.
According to another legend, the place is associated with the three monks who held the consecration of the first ruler of Sikkim. They claimed that this place was sited to them through an unusual divine light that was shinning on the top of the mountain hill. This light marked a particular place to which these three monks were escorted with divine fragrance and divine music. On hearing this unusual event, the first Chyongyal established a small Chorten which was later on included in the campus of the large Tashiding Monastery.
Besides this there exists a third legend about the place. According to this the place is associated with the Bhumchu festival and the tantric teaching of Guru Padmasambhava. The legend claims that when the guru was teaching the tantric method of “Mahakarunika Avalokiteshvara Sadhana and initiation on emancipation from the cycle of mundane existence” to the King Trisong Duetsen, prince Murub Tsenpo, Yeshe Tsogyal and Verotsana in Tibet, he sanctified the same holy vase with holy water which is placed in the Tashiding monastery at present. It is believed that during the festival all the divine Gods appear in this vase of divine water which was overflowed and spread to the surrounding areas. This brought prosperity to the area. This made the festival one of the most important and auspicious festival of the area.
Architecture of Tashiding Monastery
Tashiding Monastery is mainly divided into five sections. This includes; the Sinem market place, the outskirts, the main market place and the main Tashiding Monastery and its Chorten area. The actual entrance begins from the Sinem market place which is located at the inclined slope of the hill. The settlement grows along with the slope. It spreads lengthwise and is 23 kms from Yuksom. It includes a large Mani stone which is placed in the entrance. The road to the main monastery begins from the market place. The renovated version of the Tashiding Monastery is built in modern architecture which is decorated with colourful paintings and lavish brocade silk. The monastery includes one of the most colourful entrances. The most attractive part of the monastery is the place where the Chortens are placed. Chortens are small decorative pyramids which are dedicated to respective Gods of Buddhism like the ‘God of Divinity’. There are nearly 41 Chorten categorised as ‘Chotens of Enlightenment’, ‘Chortens of Reconciliation’ and ‘Chortens of Great Miracle’, which are all of Rinpoches and Tathagatas. These are placed in the compound of the monastery.
Festivals at Tashiding Monastery
Along with regular rituals the monastery also organizes the popular religious festival called Bhumchu Mela which is held on the 14th and 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar. Thousands of devout Buddhists trek to Tashiding to participate in the Bhumchu Festival and sip the sacred water from a sacred bhupma (water vessel).
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