Karma Rabdenling Goenpa, Ralong
The hallowed Karma Rabdenling Goenpa of Ralong near Rabong is the oldest Karma Kagyu goenpa of Sikkim. It was built around 1730 AD by Miwang Gyurmed Namgyal, the fourth Denjong Chogyal.
The Chogyal built this goenpa (monastery) to fulfil a promise made by him to the 12th Gyalwa Karmapa, Changchhub Dorje (1703-1732) of building a Kagyu goenpa in Sikkim and providing befitting patronage to it.
Chogyal Gyurmed Namgyal, during a period of internal strife in Sikkim, had gone on pilgrimage incognito to Tibet. During the Chogyal’s stay in Tibet, despite being in disguise, the Karmapa had recognised him and given the Sikkimese King a warm welcome.
There is a large tree next to the monastery which has its trunk and branches in the shape of a trident. The devout believe that this tree represents the trident of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava).
The Ralong Karma Rabdenling Goenpa is one amongst the six “Goenchen(s)” or premier monasteries of Sikkim which also includes Gyalshing’s Sangchen Pemayangtse Goenpa, Phodong’s Karma Thupten Tashi Chokhorling Goenpa, Phensang’s Sa-gna Choeling Goenpa, Rumtek’s Karma Thupten Chokhorling Goenpa and the revered Drakar Tashiding Goenpa. The Goenchens were provided with their own private estates by the Denjong Chogyals from where they collected revenue which was utilised for their upkeep. This gave them financial security as well as considerable autonomy. Major monasteries like the Sangchen Pemayangtse Goenpa were accorded by the Denjong Chogyal’s Royal Government with magisterial powers as well.