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Pemayangtse, Sikkim


Information about Pemayangtse

Pemayangtse or Pelling is situated in West Sikkim at Gyalshing, about 140 kms. from Gangtok at an altitude of 2085 meters. Pemayangtse literally means the "Perfect Sublime Lotus" and was built during the reign of the third Chogyal Chador Namgyal in 1705. Pemayangtse is the Sikkim’s second oldest monastery, situated near the start of the Dzongri trek. There are beautiful views of Kanchendzonga range from Pemayangtse. Pelling or Pemayangtse is nominally divided into Upper, Middle and Lower areas, though these effectively merge. A focal point of Upper Pelling is a small roundabout where the main road from Geyzing turns 180 degrees in front of Hotel Garuda. At the same point, minor roads branch south

Pemayangtse Monastery Sikkim

to Dentem and southwest to the helipad. It’s not so much a town as a 2 km string of tourist hotels. Despite of tourists, locals remain surprisingly unjaded, and the best budget hotels are great for meeting fellow travelers. Don’s miss strolling up to the helipad for even more panoramic views.

Tourist Attractions in Pemayangtse
The various tourist attractions in Pemayangtse are Pemayangtse Gompa, Sangachoeling Gompa, Rabdanste Palace Ruins and Khecheoparli Lake.


Pemayangtse Gompa
Pemayangtse Gompa is situated at an altitude of 2105 meters. Pemayangtse literally means ‘Perfect Sublime Lotus’, and is one of Sikkim’s oldest and most significant Nyingmapa gompas. It is magnificently set on a hilltop overlooking the Rabdentse ruins, and the atmospheric compound is ringed by gardens and traditional monks cottages walled in unpainted stone. It was originally a small Lhekhang build by Lhatsun Chenpo in the 17th century. Later during the rule of the third Chogyal Chakdor Namgyal, Lhatsun Chenpo's third reincarnate jigme Pawo extended it and rebuild the structure. This monastery belongs to the Nyigma order and all other Nyigma order monasteries in Sikkim are subordinate to it. The monastery houses numerous religious idols and other objects of worship, most of which are precious because of their antiquity. The contrastingly colourful prayer hall is beautifully proportioned, its doors and windows are painted with Tibetan motifs. Its interior has been renovated many times, the most recent incarnation featuring murals, including multiple images of Guru Padmasambhava’s three-head form.

Upstairs, fierce-looking statues depict all eight of Padmasambhava’s incarnations. On the top floor, Zandog Palri is an astounding seven-tiered model of Padmasambhava’s heavenly abode, hand made over five laborious years by a single dedicated lama, the late Dungzin Rimpoche. The walls and ceilings have innumerable paintings and there is an exceptional collection of religious artworks, including an exquisite wooden sculpture depicting the resting place of Guru Rimpoche. There are approximately 100 monks in residence and according to tradition they have been recruited from the leading Bhutia families in Sikkim as this is the ‘headquarters’ of the Nyingama sect. The main festival of the monastery is held on the 28th and 29th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan

Pemayangtse Gompa, Pemayangtse

calendar, normally corresponding to the month of February. During these two days religious dances are performed and pilgrims come from all over Sikkim to watch them.

Sangachoeling Gompa
The second oldest gompa in Sikkim, Sangachoeling has some beautiful murals and a magnificent ridge top setting. It’s a steep 3 km walk from Pelling starting along the track that veers left where the asphalted road rises to Pelling’s new helipad. A jungle trek continues 10km beyond San-gachoeling to Rani Dhunga (Queen’s Rock), supposedly the scene of an epic Ramayana battle between Rama and 10 headed demon king Ravana.

Rabdanste Palace Ruins

Rabdanste is located about 1 km. away from the Gyalshing bazaar and near the Pemayangtse Monastery. Rabdanste was the second capital of Sikkim and was established in the late seventeenth century by the second Chogyal. It was the royal capital of Sikkim from 1670 to 1814 and was abandoned towards the end of the eighteenth century because of the threat posed by the Nepalis and the capital was shifted to Tumlong. The Rabdanste Palace is now in ruins but the chortens found around the palace are not in ruins. The entrance to the site is around 3 km from Upper Pelling, 1 km closer to Geyzing than the Pemayangtse turn-off. From the site’s ornate yellow gateway, the ruins are a further 15 minutes’ hike around a pond then across a forested hill. To reach the palace one has to trek for about two kilometers from the main road near Pemayangtse Monastery through a thick forest. The ruins are being preserved by the Archaeological survey of India and have been declared as a monuments. Rabdanste consists of chunky wall-stubs with a few inscription stones. A small almost-finished museum building should eventually house local archaeological finds. Daily buses are available form Gangtok to Gyalsing.


Khecheoparli Lake
Khecheoparli is pronounced as ‘catch-a-perry’. This holy lake is highly revered by Sikkimese Buddhists. This lake is situated at an altitude of 1951 meters on a bifurcation on the road between Gyalshing and Yoksum. Kechopari means the Wishing Lake. The water in this lake is very calm and crystal clear. Not even a leaf can be seen floating on the water although a beautiful dense forest lies above the lake. It is said that if a leaf even drops on the surface of the water it is picked by a bird. During Khecheodpalri Mela held in March or April, butter lamps rather than leaves are floated out across the lake. Prayer wheels line the lake’s jetty, which is backed by fluttering prayer flags

Khecheoparli Lake Pemayangtse

and Tibetan inscriptions, but the setting, ringed with forested hill, isn’t really dramatic. To sense its reputed serenity you could try staying overnight and visiting once the constant trail of tourists has petered out.

For a relaxing day trip from Pelling, walk down to gently pleasant Darap village using the web of village footpaths through small rural hamlets. Khangchendzonga should be visible to your right most of the way, at least if clouds are magnanimous.

How to reach Pemayangtse

By Air:

The nearest airport is situated at Bagdogra, and has daily Indian Airlines connections with Kolkata and Delhi.

By Rail:

The nearest railway stations are at Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri which are well connected with other centers in North and East India.

By Road:

Pemayangtse has only a road connection with the rest of India.


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