Sikkim has several places that attract tourists from various states of India and other countries, all over the years. While Gangtok is the popular and much preferred destination, the small hilly state has some other amazing places too. If you dislike tourist destinations that remain largely congested and seek natural serenity instead, Pelling is where you should head to. The small hill town, offering breathtaking view of snow-laden Kanchenjunga range- has emerged as viable destination for tourists in Sikkim. Apart from natural bounty, it has many other things to offer including Buddhist heritage and ancient ruins.
Sightseeing options in and around Pelling
Pelling itself is not very big in size but the city is strategically located and you can explore several sightseeing spots while staying here. Over the years, transport and communication has improved drastically in the region- making things easier for visitors. You should explore the following spots and places while visiting Pelling.
- Pemayangste monastery- It is located barely a km from the main city territory. This monastery was set up in 1705 and the meaning of its name is 'Perfect Sublime Lotus'. The three-storied monastery building has a huge number of sculptures and wall paintings that leave visitors mesmerized. A 7-tier wooden masterpiece depicting abode of Guru Rimpoche is something you should not miss. It was created over 5 years.
- Khecheopalri lake- Located approx 30 km from Pelling, Khecheopalri is deemed to be a sacred lake by the locals. It is thought to be a place for fulfillment of wishes. From aerial view, the shape of this lake looks like a feet. The lake is beautiful, encircled by lush greenery and hills. The naming of the lake has links with Buddhist folklores. There are several lodges nearby for visitors who want to stay here and enjoy the serene beauty. A wooden deck extends to the lake to let devotees come and offer their prayers. Every year, a festival is held here in March.
Related: Exploring Darap Village in Sikkim
- Sanga Choeling monastery- Located atop a mountain behind Pelling, it can be reached through a path by walking. From the monastery, you get amazing views of the Kanchenjunga range and the city as well. Built way back in 1697, this is among the ancient monasteries in Sikkim. Since the region cannot be reached by cars, you will experience serenity no matter when you visit.
- Rabdentse ruins- Located close to the Pemayangtse monastery, the Rabdentse palace ruins stand as remains of Sikkim’s glorious past. It was built by Sikkim’s second Chogyal- Tensung Namgyal in the 17th century. The palace was destroyed by repeated invasions by Nepalese armies after death of the 2nd Chogyal. The ASI maintains the ruins now and you can visit it to get glimpse of royal palace of the state. It can be reached from the Pemayangtse Monastery or directly from Pelling. The place is a haven for bird watchers as well. You can spot species like Dark-breasted Rosefinch and Chestnut-crowned Warbler among others.
Related: Top Monasteries of Sikkim
- Singshore Bridge- This Bridge is among the highest suspension bridges built in Asia. Its beautiful surroundings and its location make it a destination for tourists seeking imaging opportunities while exploring Pelling. It remains open till 6 pm from 6 am every day. It is adjacent to Alpine cheese factory.
- Rimbi waterfall and river-If getting up and close with nature is on your agenda, head to the Rimbi waterfall and river. It is close to Darap village and approx 12 km away from Pelling. The waterfall leads to the river with same name and the area is a haven for angling lovers.
Related: Famous Waterfalls of Northeast India
Soaking in the Khangchendzonga Festival
You should ideally plan your trip to Pelling when the Khangchendzonga Festival takes place. This festival is held to pay tribute to the guardian deity of the state- Khangchendzonga Mountains. Held in the last week of December every year, the colorful festival is replete with cultural functions and fun activities. Adventure lovers can indulge in activities like trekking, kayaking, mountain biking etc. The festival also comprises of events like folk dances, Flower exhibitions, ethnic food exhibitions etc.
Eating out while exploring Pelling
Food lovers will get enough varieties to satiate taste buds in Pelling, as it is. There are enough eateries that serve authentic Sikkimese snacks and foods. Kasturi Restaurant is good if you wish to enjoy beautiful view of Kanchenjunga while relishing momos or tea. Kabur Resto bar is ideal for gorging on delicious Chinese and Tibetan dishes at night in a beautiful ambiance. The semi lit globe lamps and candles create a cozy atmosphere. Do not let the shabby look of Lotus Bakery fool you! Visit the bakery on your way to Pemayangste monastery and enjoy a cup of Demajong Tea with fresh buns or cakes. They also make pizza occasionally. Melting Point restaurant is another good choice where you will find tasty food and drinks are lighter on the wallet.
Related: Top Pilgrimage Places in Sikkim
Accommodation options in Pelling
Given the popularity of Pelling as an important tourist destination Sikkim, tourism industry has flourished in the last decade. So, you are not likely to have hardship in getting accommodation- unless you visit during the Khangchendzonga Festival. You will find hotels lined up and home stays and resorts type accommodations on outskirts of the town are also available. Some of the popular hotels are Tashi Gang resort, Hotel Green Valley, Yangthang Dzimkha Resort, Hotel Garuda, Chumbi Mountain Retreat and Norbu Ghang resort.
Useful Tips for visitors
Reaching Pelling from other parts of Sikkim and other states in the NE region is not hard owing to developing transport and communication options. It is connected with Gangtok, Darjeeling, Siliguri and Kalimpong. You can reach Pelling by hiring cabs from these cities easily. From Siliguri and NJP stations cabs operate on regular basis to Pelling. Govt run bus service is also available from Siliguri to Pelling.
Related: Top 5 Places To Visit In Sikkim
The weather in Pelling is more or less pleasant but it can also be unpredictable. You can find sunny weather in daytime which can turn gloomy and cloudy within a couple of hours. The months April to June have ideal climate and rain sets in after June. Monsoon often causes heavy landslides and that can disrupt transport. However, owing to this reason hotel rates and tour package costs take nosedive in these months. From December the foreign tourists start thronging west Sikkim and you may visit during the Khangchendzonga Festival.