Feature Story

Destination Pelling: From Waterfalls To Treks To Ancient Capitals

Pelling is a little town in Sikkim, the remote Himalayan state in the Northeast region of India. Located at an altitude of 6,250 feet above sea-level, Pelling is in the West Sikkim district of Sikkim, close to the district headquarters, Gyalshing (also called Geyzing).

As of the last few years, Pelling is emerging as an important centre for tourism, mainly because it is a convenient hub for accessing historical places in West Sikkim. In addition, it also serves as a convenient stop or base for hiking and eco-tourism in West Sikkim. Finally, it is an access point to the Kanchenjunga National Park and related trekking routes.

In clear weather months, Pelling has an important tourism-related ‘claim to fame’: it offers stunning views of the Kanchenjunga range, rather up-close views in comparison to what one might see from Gangtok or other popular tourist destinations. We were there for a full 7 days but did not have any luck catching a glimpse but that’s because we went just before the monsoons.

The following paragraphs provide a brief overview on what one can do or see around Pelling.

Popular Tourist Places

These are places in and around Pelling or along the route to a relatively nearby monument. Typically, local guides and drivers are likely to offer these as part of a two-day Pelling sightseeing packaging – one day towards Yuksom covering Rimbi Falls, Orange Garden River Stop, Yuksom, Kecheolpari Lake and Kanchenjunga Falls; and on the second day, covering Rabdentse, Pemayangste, Singshore Bridge and Changey Falls. If you are pressed for time then this run-and-dash kind of itinerary will have to suffice and depending on weather you may have to skip a place or two. If you have three days in Pelling, you are likely to have a more relaxed time at each place.

Rimbi Falls, Rimbi

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Rimbi Falls is a refreshing spectacle on the way to Yuksom; Photo: sanjay mukherjee

Rangit River at Orange Garden River Stop

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The Orange Garden River Stop is a quaint place to interact with the Rangit River (Rangeet); Photo: sanjay mukherjee

Kanchenjunga Falls, Pelling-Yuksom Road

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A part of the Kanchenjunga Falls which is on the Pelling-Yuksom road; Photo: sanjay mukherjee

Sidkeong Bird Park, adjacent to Rabdentse Ruins

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Sidkeong Bird Park within the Rabdentse Ruins estate has an interesting collection of Himalayan birds though the viewing is restricted due to lack of proximity; Photo: sanjay mukherjee

Changey Waterfalls, Pelling-Dentam Road

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Changey Falls is quite a stunning and surreal experience, and it sort of appears as you turn a bend and catch a glimpse o it on the way to Singshore Bridge; Photo: sanjay mukherjee

Singshore Bridge, Dentam

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Singhshore Bridge in Dentam is a worth the visit given that one is standing and walking across a suspension bridge dangling hundreds of metres above the ground; Photo: sanjay mukherjee

Buddhist Religious Circuit

Pelling is the perfect stopover and hub if you are planning to do the Buddhist Religious Circuit in West Sikkim. The Circuit comprises:

  1. Yuksom, Dubdi Monastery and Norbugang Chorten
  2. Kecheolpeori Lake
  3. Tashiding Monastery, Tashiding
  4. Rabdentse Ruins, Pelling-Gyalshing Road
  5. Pemayangtse Monastery, Pelling
  6. Sanghak Choeling Monastery, Pelling

One can combine visits to the Pilgrimage sites with popular tourists since they are on the same route (the local driver is likely to suggest the same), but it really depends on how much time you want to spend at the sites and monasteries. While Rabdenste, Pemayangste and Sanghak Choeling can be done in one day since they are all in or near Pelling, Yuksom and Kecheolpari Lake require another day; Tashiding can be done with Yuksom since there is a road from Yuksom to Tashiding; if road conditions and timing does nor facilitate this, then Tashiding would require another day. Incidentally, usually Tashiding is not a part of the standard local sightseeing, so it is best to discuss with your tour operator or driver.

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The Coronation Throne at Norbugang in Yuksom; Photo: sanjay mukherjee

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Kecheolpari Lake is a great place to visit for its religious significance and serenity; Photo: sanjay mukherjee

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Tashiding Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim; Photo: sanjay mukherjee

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Sanghak Choeling Monastery in Pelling is a must-visit for its religious significance, antiquity and the fantastic views of the mountains around Pelling; Photo: sanjay mukherjee

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Pemayangste Monastery in Pelling; Photo: sanjay mukherjee

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Elevated view of Rabdentse Palace layout

Hikes & Treks

West Sikkim has an abundance of natural trails and one can enjoy walks, and undertake day-hikes all across the district. The district is, however, famous and popular among global trekkers since Yuksom is the gateway to the Kanchenjunga National Park, which in turn is a trekker’s paradise with the Goecha-La and Dzongri treks. There are five major trek routes in West Sikkim, including the Kanchenjunga Trek, Kosturi Trek, Singalila Trek, Barsey Trek, and the Monastic Trek which connects the entire Buddhist Religious Circuit in West Sikkim.

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The Interpretation Centre of the Kanchenjunga National Park at Yuksom has an interesting treasure trove of information and a little display-museum; Photo: sanjay mukherjee

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