Residing on the picturesque hilltop of Gangtok is a unique Tibetan museum called Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. Built in 1958 Namgyal Institute of Tibetology was established to promote research into the Mahayana sect of Buddhism and Tibetan language and culture and is known for being one of the famous and important institutes in the world for its vast research. Located in Deorali less than 2km away from the main town Gangtok the site on which the institute stands today was donated by the late king of Sikkim Sir Tashi Namgyal, in memory of his son Late Palden Thondup Namgyal (the Chogyal of Sikkim) and later the institute was named after him.
Surrounded by lush forest of oak, magnolia and pine the foundation stone of Namgyal Institute of Tibetology was laid by the 14th Dalai Lama on the 10th of February 1957 and officially inaugurated by the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 1st October 1958. The institute’s main building is an imposing monument and a splendid example of Sikkimese architecture and till date remains as one of the finest traditional Tibetan designs in the world. The library of Namgyal Institute of Tibetology holds one of the largest collections of Tibetan works in the world outside Tibet and a museum of Tibetan iconography and religious art while the institute has been publishing the Bulletin of Tibetology since 1964, along with countless books of import. It has over 60,000 volumes that include translation of original teachings of Lord Buddha, thesis and articles from imminent Buddhist scholars from all over the world, and xylographs (that are created from wooden plates where the transcripts are embossed in reverse order). Besides the voluminous collection of Buddhist books and manuscripts the museum of Namgyal Institute of Tibetology contains many rare collection of coins, Tibetan cloth paintings called thangka, statues, human thighbone trumpets, and a kapali – bowl made of human skull, all explained completely by detailed captions. But one of the most prominent items stored in Namgyal Institute of Tibetology is the grand and majestic image of Manjushree (bodhisattva of knowledge and wisdom) which was brought all the way from Tibet. New programs are being created, with lectures, publications, seminars by foreign scholars being undertaken, all in the hope to transform the institute as a research centre in the Eastern Himalayas. For souvenir there is a gift shop within the premises of institutes. Tourist who came with little to no knowledge about the Buddhist religion will get an insight about the tradition and culture followed from ancient era through a visit in Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. The vast collection of rare manuscript has attracted the scholars who are doing an in-depth study upon the Tibetan culture towards Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. The institute is an excellent example of art and history. The vast collection of astounding and ancient Buddhist artifact has made Namgyal Institute of Tibetology one of the favored places to visit in Gangtok.
The human mind has always been intrigued by the age-old rituals and tradition followed by other religion or it thrives to learn about the reason behind the creation of those tradition, at Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, minds of visitors and scholar are boggled by the vast collection of manuscript, writings and artifacts which are related to decades old tradition and culture of buddhist religion which are still being followed. Learning about the Tibetan art, culture and language as well as relishing in the beauty of astounding vista of adjacent valley offered from the hill top, a visit to Namgyal Institute of Tibetology ensures it all. Perched at the scenically blessed hilltop of Gangtok with its astounding artifacts and finest architecture Namgyal Institute of Tibetology has become a must visit place of while traveling to Sikkim.
The museum and the library of Namgyal Institute of Tibetology are open to public between 10am to 4pm from Monday to Saturday. It is closed on Sundays, public holidays and second Saturdays of every month.
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