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Phodong – The Home Of Some Ancient And Beautiful Monasteries
About Phodong:The small town of Phodong is located in the northern region of Sikkim and is famous for its magnificent monasteries. The towns of Phensang and Labrang are located in close vicinity to Phodong and are also famous for their monasteries. The people here are mostly farmers and although Phodong is not a major tourist destination, visitors often stop here to take meals and explore the ancient monasteries in the region.

Places Of Interest In And Around PhodongAs mentioned before, Phodong is not exactly a tourist spot, in the real sense. However, in the recent years, the number of visitors coming to this place has steadily increased. The main attractions of the region are the ancient monasteries which not only have great architectural designs but also preserve some of the most magnificent artifacts of Buddhist culture.  Given below are the details of the most prominent monasteries in the region.

Phodong Monastery:  This monastery was originally set up in 1740 and was constructed by Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal. The monastery was later re-built and is today considered to be one of Sikkim’s most attractive monasteries. The monastery is located on a former road that is completely ruined. The monastery, which is home to nearly 260 monks, is famous for its ancient paintings. The primary annual puja, which is held during the tenth month of Tibetan calendar on the 28th and 29th days, attracts a good number of visitors primarily because of the awe-inspiring religious dances known as “Chaam dances”, that are held on the occasion. Another prominent feature of the monastery is its magnificent two-story prayer hall, which contains a huge idol of the 9th Karmapa along with various elaborate paintings.

Labrang Monastery: Located only a km away from the Phodong Monastery, the Labrang Monastery is renowned for its  great architecture, relaxing atmosphere and peaceful ambience.  Set up in 1884, the monastery is dedicated to Tibetian Buddhism’s Nyingmapa Sect. The name of the monastery means the abode of Lamas and it features a terrifying deity wearing a necklace of detached heads, on the first floor. In addition the monastery is known for its prayer hall which features the painted image of Guru Padmasambhva in the same pose that is repeated 1022 times. The place is also famous for the annual Chaam dance which is organized in the month of December every year.

Phensong Moastery: Located on a gentle slope with magnificent landscape, the Phensong Monastery is situated between the Phodong Monastry and Kabi. This ancient monastery dates back to the early 18th century and was constructed in 1721, during the era of Lama Jigme Pawo, believed to be the Lhatsun Chenpo’s third incarnation. Although the monastery was destroyed completely in a devastating fire in 1947, it was rebuilt again at the same place only a year later.  Just like the other two major monasteries in the region, here also the annual Chaam dances are organized during early December, which correspond to the tenth month of the Tibetan calendar.   

Tumlong Palace Ruins: This palace was at one time the third capital of the great Kingdom of Sikkim. Tumlong became the capital of the Kingdom of Sikkim at the start of the 19th century, prior to which Rabdenste was the capital city. Tumlong continued to be the capital of the Kingdom of Sikkim for the next ninety years. Although the palace, which is located somewhere in between the two ancient monasteries of Phodong and Labrang, is currently in ruins, it is frequented by many history enthusiasts. It is also visited by many tourists who stop over at Phodong for meals and a little sightseeing.

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