The Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre (Rumtek Monastery), perched above a hill top, at a distance of 24 km from Gangtok, was the result of a vision that the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, held for the spread of Buddhism throughout the world after his exile from Tibet. The largest monastery in Sikkim houses a large community of monks of the Karma Kagyud order and is the place where sacred rituals, teachings and practices take place.
A great many sacred and rare objects including religious scriptures and the majestic Golden Stupa containing the remains of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, can be found in the monastery. Inside the monastery complex is also the Buddhist College called the Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies which imparts education on Buddhist religion to local and international students.
A golden sculpture adorns the roof of the four-storied temple known as the ghanzira; five different designs depicting the five Buddhist families ornament the roof in the form of a lotus. The entrance to the main temple is decorated by Tibetan style paintings and four life-size images of the Four Guardians of the universe stands at each side of the door. A painting of Lord Ganesha is also depicted inside the temple, because the Karmapa had a vision in which he saw that Lord Ganesha had blessed the construction of the holy structure.
The main hall where the shrine is located contains a large set of religious texts and scriptures of the Kangyur – teachings of Buddha, translated from Sanskrit – and Tengyur - a Tibetan translation of ancient Indian religious texts consisting of 225 volumes. On the right rear side of the main shrine are the shrines of Mahakala and Mahakali, Gods and Goddess who are protectors of the Kagyud Order. While on the left side is the chapel dedicated to the female deity and protector, Tsering Che Nga, and an aggressive aspect of Guru Padmasambhava.
The following institutions are under the auspices of the Rumtek Dharma Centre and are located inside or nearby the famous monastery:
Karma Choekhor Tashi Ling Lhakhang: It is the temple where ordinary monks practice prayers, mantras and follow other religious activities and rituals. It consists of small prayer wells (dharma wheels) that the monks spin to purify themselves and gain holy virtues.
Sungrab Nyamso Printing House: The printing house produces rare Buddhist texts of the Kagyud lineage and consists of five thousand hand-carved wooden blocks of sacred Tibetan scripts.
Karmae Dharma Chakra Centre School: The primary school provides free education to children of the monk community and adjoining villages. The school was established according to the wishes of the 16th Karmapa in 1984.
Kunga Delek Hotel: A good hotel with all basic amenities, food and great view of Gangtok and the Himalayan Ranges has been set up for visitors to the monastery.
Garchen Handicrafts: An excellent variety of traditional Tibetan carpets woven by the local communities of the monastery are sold commercially in the Garchen Handicrafts Centre.