His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa has written about the benefits of veneration at Rumtek Monastery. One of these is a method of accumulating merit with one's body, which leads both visitors and residents alike to perform kora, the circumambulation of the Dharma Chakra Centre complex along the stupa walkway.
The stupa overlooks Gangtok, the Sikkim capital
Behind the south wall of the monastery is the path leading to the consecrated stupa. In only twenty minutes followers can complete the kora, circling nearly the entire complex. At the beginning of the walkway is a steep stone footpath, lined with prayer flags whose colors symbolize the five elements: blue for iron; white, water; red, fire; yellow, earth; and green, wood. Some are printed with prayers to accumulate merit for deceased people, others with general prayers to increase prosperity and well-being for all sentient beings. The flags lend a festive air to the entire hill, and every Losar prayers and pujas are held for the deities and old prayer flags are replaced. At the top of the hill is the tenkhar, a small home built for the dharma protectors and local deities.
Facing the tenkhar is a beautiful meadow that provides a place to sit and contemplate amongst the fluttering flags. Then, the path descends down the hill, reaching the stupa which, like the monastery, has been built in the ancient tradition that protects against bad geomancy in the area. Standing thirty-five feet tall, the stupa was built to remove obstacles for the reincarnation of His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. Inside are ancient scripts and substances, and the image of the deity Raksha Tötreng, whose mantra is carved on the front.
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