Definition of Sikkim Monasteries

Sikkim monasteries are normally called- “Gonpa, Manilhakhang, lhakhang, Tshamkhang and Dubkhangs”. “Gonpa” or properly ‘dGon-pa’, means a solitary place or wilderness. Some earlier writers had written as ‘Gompa’ or sometimes ‘Gumpa’, which are mispronounced and creating difficulty in tracing out its literal meaning. In earlier times, Buddhist monks confined themselves in such a quiet place, mostly in a mountain cave or in a hut amidst thick forest in order to practice the teachings of Lord Buddha and this may be the reason calling the place as “Gonpa or Solitary Place” It signifies that the monk practicing Buddha’s teaching should keep himself away from mundane temptation. It is also said that a Gonpa should be situated at least a thousand yards distant from a village or town. We can see today the most of the old monasteries built up on the hilltops or on the place extremely isolated from the village or town, is, of course, a living evidence of the above stated facts. Earlier, the monasteries were started building with one or two storied single mansion the monks dwelling houses called- ‘Drashak’ in its premises. However, in the passage of time, the pattern of monastic way of life gradually changed with the advancement of modern infrastructure. The major monasteries in later times assumed the size of large three storied Mansion with long dwelling houses surrounding the courtyard. Some of the famous Gonpas or monasteries of Sikkim were upgraded from an old Hermit’s hut, such as present Enchey Monastery, which was a Hermitage of Saint Drubthob Karpo and presently assumed the size of large Mansion with monk’s quarter around the main structure
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