Pelling in West Sikkim is one of the most popular tourist spots in Sikkim. It is divided in three parts-Upper, middle and lower Pelling. It seems that this place has entirely been developed for tourism because all you see along the road are hotels and restaurants. Darap village and Dentam village are located a few kilometers away from Pelling.
How to reach there?
A shared cab from Jorethang, will bring you either to Gayzing, the nearest prominent city or Pelling for Rs. 120/person. Taxis to Gayzing are more frequent. A shared taxi will cost Rs. 50/person from Gayzing to Pelling. On our way back we booked a shared cab from Pelling to Jorethang through a tour operator for Rs. 200.
How to go around sightseeing?
Two of the major attractions, Pemyangtse Monastery and Rabdentse ruins can be covered by walking. For covering other places, you will need to book a cab through the many tour operators in Pelling. An entire day sight seeing will cost you Rs. 2500 or Rs. 2800. You can however, ask the tour operators to call you if they find another group interested in going for sightseeing as well. The tour operators call you back to tell you if another group contacts them as well. We were joined by two other girls traveling together and paid Rs. 1400 for the same. The tour included Darap village, Rimbi waterfalls, Orange rock garden, Kanchendzonga falls, Khechoperi lake, Changey falls, Pemyangtse monastery , Dentam village(from a distance) and Singshore bridge.
This scenic village lies 7km away from Pelling. People here grow cardamom. We walked through this village for about 10 minutes and went back to the cab but you can even spend a few days in this beautiful village. Cardamom plants are tall shrubs with flowers growing at the base, right above the soil.The driver told us that these flowers will turn into cardamom in about 3-4 months.
Rimbi Waterfalls/ Kanchendzonga waterfalls/ Changey waterfalls
Entrance fee for Kanchendzonga falls: Rs.20/person
I am clubbing them all together. If you are trying to fit everything in one day, I recommend not spending much time on these.
Orange rock garden
Entrance fee: Rs. 20/person
A winding walk through a garden will bring you down to the Rimbi river where you can soak up your feet in the ice cold water. It’s quite refreshing to sit by the river and see it flowing past and making eddies at a distance.
The driver will show you Dentam village from the top and claim that it looks like the map of India, but none of us could see and similarity so we agreed and moved on. It’s just a tourist trap, they are just adding a point.
Also known as the wishing lake, Kechoperi lake is a sacred lake for the Buddhists and there are many legends associated with it. The water of this lake is considered to be therapeutic. A 15 minutes leisurely walk through the serene tropical forest will take you to the lake. It is shaped like a foot print and the Buddhists believe that it is a blessing from Goddess Tara.
The legend says that the place was once a grazing ground, full of stinging nettle. Bark of nettle is used by native Lepchas for multiple requirement. Once a Lepcha couple saw a pair of conches from the air embed themselves into the ground, forming this lake after violent shaking. The lake is considered to be the abode of Tshomen Gyalmo, chief protective nymph of Dharma, blessed by Goddess Tara.
You can pay your respects at the shrine. There are a large number of fishes in the lake. You can also trek to the top to see the lake. It is from this vantage point that it looks like a footprint. Based on your stamina, the walk can take anywhere between half an hour to an hour. There is also a beautiful monastery at the starting point.
Admission fee: Rs. 30/car(parking fee)
About 5 km from Pelling is the highest suspension bridge in Sikkim and second highest in Asia and connects two gorges, greatly reducing the travel time. Singshore bridge offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. It is open everyday from 6AM to 6PM.
It is the first skywalk in India and there is a huge statue of Avlokiteshwars close to it. You can visit it if you have time, but don’t be disheartened if you are unable to see it.
Sanga Choeling monastery
We could only see this monastery from outside as it was getting quite late. It was built in the late 17th or early 18th century by Lama Lhatsun Chempo and is a part of Buddhist pilgrimage.
Entrance fee: Rs. 20/person
A pleasant walk will take you to the Pemyangtse monastery. From Upper Pelling, walk in the direction of Gayzing and you will reach there in about an hour. It is a very prominent Buddhist monastery of the Nyingma order and controls all other monasteries of the same order. It was built 1705 by Lama Lhatsun Chempo.
The monastery is triple storied.
The first floor is dhukhang or the prayer hall.
The second floor is Guru Lhakang & Kagyur Lhakang (Hall of the holy text).
The third floor, Zhangthokpalri has the model of Celestial Palace as seen by Guru Rinpoche in his dreams. The third floor also has a collection of artifacts like parts of the original monastery made of wood, old drums and trumpets, lamps, costumes worn by performers during religious celebrations, old vessels and some artifacts from the Chogyal dynasty. The view of the mountains from the monastery is spectacular.
Entrance fee: Rs.25/person
It is located 3 km from Pelling in the direction of Gayzing. The ruins are not a part of any tour and you will have to go on your own. Rabdentse was the second capital of Sikkim, the first being Yuksom.
A quiet and scenic walk through the Sidkeong Tulku bird park leads you to the ruins of the palace from the 18th century. An attack by Nepal had the then Chogyal Tenzing Namgyal flee to Tibet. After the Indo-Sino treaty was signed in 1793, his son Tsudphud Namgyal returned to Sikkim. He shifted the capital to Tungogng due to the proximity of Rabdentse to Nepal.
The ruins are surrounded by well maintained, lush green lawns and the view of the mountains is stunning. I highly recommend that you visit this place.
Other places of interest
Apart from the places that I have mentioned, there are plenty of other places that you can visit. A trek through the Hilley- Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary will give you some amazing views of the rhododendron flowers. You can visit Yuksom, which is apparently also the starting point for the trek to the base camp of Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world.
From Pelling, we went back to Jorethang to go to Namchi. To read about South Sikkim, read my blog post Exploring South Sikkim- Namchi, Damthang, Ravangla.