Tashiding Gompa

The ridge between Ralang and Yuksom ends with an upturned promontory (1450m) on which sits the multibuilding complex of Tashiding Gompa, an important Nyingmapa monastery. At its heart, a beautifully proportioned prayer hall has a delicate topknot that contrasts with the two lower stone floors. The murals inside are somewhat time-darkened and the main images are fronted with numerous colourful butter sculptures. Behind the Guru Lakhang building, shaded by two ancient Kashmir cypress trees, is a 'forest' of chorten stupas and mantra stones plus a dharma bell that rings out resonant prayer-tones.

The Dalai Lama chose this magical spot for a two-day meditation retreat in 2010. Each February the monastery celebrates the Bumchu festival.

The monastery is 3km down a dead-end lane that starts with a colourful junction gate 400m south of Tashiding village. The last 500m suddenly becomes exceedingly rough and steep. It's better to walk that section using stairway shortcuts.