Located in the beautiful setting surrounded by hills and oak trees in Gangtok, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is one of the most visited places to gain a deeper insight into the Tibetan culture and its ancient traditions. Housing a museum and a library, the institute is a research centre and witnesses a horde of visitors from around the world
Timing: 10 am to 4 pm (Sunday closed)
Location: Deorali, Gangtok, Sikkim
Entry Fees: Rs10
One of the most significant and popular research institutes of Tibetan language and culture in the world, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology in Gangtok, Sikkim, was established in February 1957 by the 14th Dalai Lama and got inaugurated in 1958 by the Late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The institute houses in its premises a museum, a Tibetan Library, and a Reference Centre about Tibet and the Himalayas in general. The institute is perched in a small forest of birch trees, oak, and magnolia and is surrounded by mighty hills that make it even more appealing to the eyes.
The main edifice is constructed in the Tibetan architectural style and remains as one of the finest traditional Tibetan designs in the world. The museum can be found on the ground floor of the building and houses some rare assortments of statues, coins, thangkas (scrolls with hand painting and embroidery), Tibetan artwork and objects, etc. One of the major highlights of the museum is the magnificent and grand image of Manjushri (Bodhisattva of knowledge and perception) made of silver which was brought all the way from Tibet. Other items of attraction are five models of sandalwood – one is of the first Chogyal (King) of Sikkim, three are of those lamas who nominated the first King of Sikkim, and the fifth is that of Guru Padmasambhava. The walls of the museum are adorned with contemporary art and murals that depict the art trends of Sikkim in the mid-20th century.
Apart from the museum, the library of the institute is located on the first floor and shelves one of the prime collections of Tibetan documents and pieces of literature in the world including ancient manuscripts in four languages – Tibetan, Sanskrit, Chinese, and Lepcha. The library houses over 60,000 volumes that include a version of the original wisdom of Lord Buddha, a thesis and articles from prominent Buddhist scholars, and xylographs (that are created from wooden plates where the transcripts are engraved in reverse order).