Must Visit

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

4.3 / 5 75 votes


Weather:

Time Required: 1-2 hrs

Timings:

Monday - Saturday: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM (Closed on Sundays, Second Saturdays and Government Holidays)

Entry Fee:

INR 10
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Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok Overview

One of the very few of its kind, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is an abode of centuries-old Tibetan-Buddhist culture and its history. NIT preserves the glorious past of the country, the religion and its precious culture with utmost dedication and that shows in the excellent collection in the museum and the library which are the main attractions here. As important as its role is for the pursuers of Asian culture and Buddhist studies, with its quiet and serene charm, it is a paradise for the tourists as well, especially for the occasional history-enthusiast. Photography is not allowed inside, but you can take some time off technology and take in all you want with the lens of your eyes.

In spite of being primarily a place for study and research of Tibetan and Buddhist culture, The Namgyal Institute has emerged as a major tourist attraction in Gangtok. It promotes and supports the study, research, and preservation of Tibetan history, art, literature, architecture, religion, philosophy and anything and everything else that comes with that. With a foundation stone laid by the great Dalai Lama himself, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is among the pioneer of preservation and promotion of Tibetan art and literature.

Built in the Tibetan architectural style amidst the lap of lush green nature, the fa├žade rises majestically with its tall golden towers, attractive and significant murals and colourful frescos. The exquisite and greatly maintained pieces in the museum and the library - the statues, the manuscripts, the art pieces, the rare literary works and encyclopaedia, the relics and remains - all speak of a culturally rich past and thanks to NIT, an academically prosperous future.

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1. Museum: The museum of NIT is situated on the ground floor in the core building amidst ornate towers and facades covered with murals. The museum houses a rare collection of timeless and priceless Tibetan and Buddhist artefacts, ranging from statues and figurines, ritualistic objects, traditional art pieces, thangkas (Buddhist painting on pieces of clothes) to many ancient manuscripts written in Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan and Lepcha all are put on display for visitors. These scripts have been collected from around the world over the years.

Some of the major attraction pieces at the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology museum are - a casket with relics of two Ashokan missionaries and sandalwood images depicting five great men from Buddhist history - Guru Rinpoche (the bringer of Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet), three founding lamas of Sikkim and King Phuntsok Namgyal (the first monarch of Sikkim). The showstopper of the entire display is the spectacular silver image of Majushri - the bodhisattva or enlightened Lord Buddha depicted in authentic Sikkimese artistry.

2. Library: The library of NIT is stocked with some of the greatest and rarest literary creations of Tibetan and Buddhist history, philosophy, theology, culture and also houses journals and periodicals about the same. It has over 60,000 volumes including several translated versions of Buddhist teachings, research papers and articles written over the years by academics and scholars on Buddhist studies. The library also has xylographs, typical to Chinese and Tibetan culture, which are nothing but wooden plates with transcripts written and embossed in reverse.

Among many other rare pieces, the 135 volume Encyclopaedia Tibetica is also there. The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology Library is open to all visitors, but no one is allowed to rent books home as it is a reference library. This is mainly because of safety reasons for all the rare and age-old pieces of literature. However, if you are visiting for academic or creative purposes, you can take notes in the reading rooms and even photocopy many of them, but not all.

The torchbearer of Tibetan history has quite a significant foundation of its own. The land on which the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology stands was donated by the late King (Chogyal in Sikkimese) Sir Tashi Namgyal, after whom the institute has been named. The cornerstone of the institute was laid down by the 14th Dalai Lama - the leader of Buddhist religious hierarchy, on February 10, 1957; and yet another esteemed personality, the first and the then Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the establishment just a year and a half later, on October 10, 1958.

The structure of the Namgyal Institute has undergone changes ever since. In 2002, it was opened for international collaboration and also got its research wing. More recently, in 2008, the Governor of Sikkim presided over the inauguration of some new additions - conference hall, library, study rooms and studios as a part of the institute's Golden Jubilee celebrations.

A trip to such a serene place rich with so much history and knowledge would be incomplete if you cannot take back a souvenir. No need to worry, as just opposite the Namgyal Institute building is a lovely, little curio-cum-souvenir shop called Asta Mangala Art. The shop is full of trinkets, gift items, traditional Sikkimese art pieces and clothing items, ornate showpieces and silverware.

1. Take your shoes off before entering the museum.
2. Photography inside the museum is strictly prohibited.
3. Opposite to Namgyal Institute building is a cosy cafe which is actually a branch of Baker's Cafe of MG Road in Gangtok. It serves piping hot tea and coffee and a variety of snacks items to go along. This is a nice recess to sit and relax after the trip and have a chat about the entire experience.

For any tourist staying in Gangtok, the institution is only 15-20 minutes' drive away. Only 2 km from the heart of central Gangtok, you can easily take a cab and reach there. The Namgyal Institue of Tibetology is also covered in almost all the packaged tours of the city, in case you are taking one. The institute is in only six minutes' walking distance from Deorali Bazaar Ropeway Station and Deorali taxi stand.

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