Namgyal Institute of Tibetology

Top choice in Gangtok

The NIT's 1958 core building feels like a Tibetan fantasy palace, with corner towers, colourful mural frontage and a forest-glade setting. The main hall houses a priceless and well-explained collection of culturally Tibetan/Buddhist iconography and artefacts, including tantric skullcap bowls and trumpets made from human thigh bones. Beautiful Buddhist statuary includes an eight-armed bronze image of victory goddess Namgyalama, who appears to be texting on an invisible phone.

Few tourists venture upstairs to the shrine-like library, whose teak-and-glass cases house mostly wrapped religious scriptures along with the 135-volume Encyclopaedia Tibetica.

The institute is six minutes' walk from Deorali Bazaar Ropeway Station and Deorali taxi stand.