Pelling is a small town in West Sikkim. Pelling is famous for its magnificent views of the snow-capped mountains of Kanchenjunga. Situated at an altitude of 1,900 m (6,250 ft), the location offers good views of the surrounding mountain ranges including the Koktang, Frey, Rathong, Kabru North and Kabru South, Kabru Dom, Talung Kanchenjunga, Pandim, Jopuno, Tinchikhang, Narsing and others.
Freddie Pelling founded the town during British rule. He organised protection for the townspeople who lived under threat from raiders coming from the north who stole minerals from the mines there. Since then, Freddie Pelling has become a local hero. Each year there is a parade through the town commemorating him, and celebrating the changes he made. As a token of their thanks they renamed the village after him.
The local Limboo (indigenous) people are regarded by outsiders as being physically strong, openhearted and independent people. Limboo has several sub castes or clans including Khamdhak, Muringla, Tamling, Lingden and Pegha.
About 95% of the people live by subsistence farming activities. The area is sparsely populated and the people live in houses scattered across the terrain of the Himalayas. Agriculture is the paramount occupation of the villagers. The main crops cultivated are cardamom, maize, millet, paddy, wheat and buckwheat.
The small castle like local houses are the typical traditional architecture of the Limboo people and have a large courtyard, unique balconies and beautiful galleries.
Music and dances
Folk songs and dances of the Limbo tribe are rich and energetic. The traditional Limbo dance and song with the ‘Chabb-rung’ (drum) is performed during festivals and other important occasions. The Limbo men wear Po-hok-ma and ‘'Sumba'’. This is slightly similar to the Daura Suruwal (Nepali dress). The women wear an ankle length dress Sim and Hambari, which is usually bright in colour and made from a finely woven fabric with traditional patterns.
Arts and crafts
The region produces local handicrafts items made from wood, wool and bamboo.
Village tourism in Sikkim is a booming industry and the local community strives to manage it in an manner that is environmentally, culturally and socially responsible. The local community is at the centre of the planning, implementation and monitoring processes. This local involvement assists in the conservation of the areas natural and cultural resources.
Local educated but unemployed youth have organised themselves into the Darap Eco-Tourism Committee. The Darap Eco-Tourism Committee is a local community based organisation leading the village community in matters related to tourism development. The committee aims to ensure the development of sustainable tourism in the village. It has its own tourism office at Darap. Formed in 2005 the objectives are to build awareness about natural and cultural resources and to mobilise the villagers in tourism and conservation activities.
- Tourist Information Centre, Helipad Rd (adjacent to Pelling School Girl Hostel and opposite the Handicraft and Handloom Office), firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Darap Village (Darap Eco-Tourism Committee), ☏ , email@example.com. Mr. Sushil Tamang
The quickest way to get to Pelling is to take a 30 min share jeep from Geyzing which acts as the main transport hub for the area. However, if you are sick of being crushed amongst 10 other locals then the walk along the road is particularly pleasant and it should only take around 4-6 hr.
There are regular jeep service from Gangtok at 7AM and 12:30PM. Look for them at the West Sikkim taxi jeep stand near the Gangtok police headquarters.
Jeeps are also available at the jeep stand at 1PM going to Kechapalari lake and Rimbi, these travel via Pelling on that route.
Jeeps are available from Siliguri in the afternoon, one jeep hired up to Pelling will cost ₹3000-4000.
SNT Bus are also available from Siliguri (SNT) at Hill Cart Road at 12:30PM.
Guides are available in Pelling for nature walks and monastic treks. Some of the younger men and boys of the district have benefited from a training program provided by the Government of Sikkim. Ask in the tourism office as they may only be booked through there.
- 1 Pemayangtse Monastery. Pemayangtse literally means perfect sublime lotus. This is one of the oldest and most important monasteries of Sikkim. Founded in 1705, this monastery belongs to the Nyingma-pa sect. The 3-storied building of the monastery houses a good collection of wall paintings and sculptures. On the 3rd floor of the monastery, there is a 7-tiered painted wooden model of the abode of Guru Rimpoche, complete with rainbows, angels and the whole panoply of Buddha and bodhisattva. In January–February every year, a religious dance called 'Cham' is performed in Pemayangtse.
- 2 Rabdentse Ruins. When descending from Pemayangtse Monastery you can take a left turn and take a walk for 10 min to reach to the gateway of Rabdanse Ruins. The ruins lie hidden from the main road. The walk towards Rabdantse is through a forest area with some rare species of orchids and a few lakes. These lakes are also home to local carp fish. There are good views from the top of the ruins looking across the deep valley and to the Khang-chen-Dzonga ranges.
- 3 Chenrezig statue and skywalk. The 42-metre-high statue of Chenrezig dominates the Pelling skyline. Chenrezig, also known as Avalokitesvara, “One who looks with unwavering eye,” is the most revered of all Bodhisattvas, embodying the compassion of all Buddhas. The Dalai Lama is said to be the incarnation of Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara). The flight of stairs lead to the pedestal of the gigantic statue housing a small shrine. The pedestal houses a shrine, centered around another statue of Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara). This statues with 11 heads is the most common manifestation of the 108 different forms of Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara). The inner walls of the shrine contains bright coloured fresco depicting the life of Lord Buddha. A ramp spirals along the inner walls of the shrine and leads to an open terrace offering breathtaking birds eye view of the Pelling town, crowned with the eternal snows of Mt Kanchenjunga. The skywalk, although is more famous, is not the primary purpose of this project. It is just an additional attraction to the gigantic statue. Photography inside the shrine is prohibited. ₹50 (₹20 for Sikkimese) for sky walk only. Visit to the Chenrezig statue is free.
- 4 Sanga Choeling Monastery. Situated on a ridge above Pelling and overlooking the famous Pemayangtse Monastery. Built in 1697 AD, it is considered to be one of the oldest monasteries in the State. In order to reach this Monastery one has to be prepared to spend at least 40 min walking up the steep hilly slope and through the forest.
- Monastery trek: Pelling is the starting point of the Monastery trek Pelling to Kechapalari Llake (6 hr), Kechapalari Lake to Yuksum (3 to 4 hr) and Yuksum to Tashiding (6 hr) The trek follows small local paths as well as the very quiet main road. It is a rewarding 3-day trek. A handmade map is available at Tourist Information Centre. The paths are poorly marked, but the best strategy is to simply ask a local to point you in the right direction. You will never be lost as the countryside is dotted with small villages throughout it.
- Darap Village Amongst the few unexplored areas this village historically known as Therap, meaning flat land, is home to a few of the Limboo people. Tucked away in the interiors of Himalayan belt, this cold, high altitude village was long unknown to the outside world. Sitting at an altitude well over 1,600 m (5,250 ft) above mean sea level, the valley is exposed to temperature variations of -5℃ to 28℃. This makes Darap a storehouse of various rare and endangered species of flora and fauna. The Limboo culture is also well preserved in this valley. Darap village is rich in natural resources, bio-diversity and particularly very rich in cultures and customs of local tribes called ‘Limboo'.
- Darap is easily accessible as it is well connected with roadways from different corners of Sikkim. The nearest railhead is about 145 km (4½ hr drive). The nearest airport is about 115 km away and the journey is approximately 5 hr by road.
- Trekking and village walks including observation of rural lifestyle with participation in organic farming activities for those who may be interested.
- Traditional house visits
- Cultural shows and ancient Limboo story telling sessions
- Handicraft making
- Visit the cave at Khanchendzongna National Park
- Bird watching
- Volunteer to assist with community programs
- Fishing at Rimbi An ideal place for fishing is located 2 km away from Darap. Enjoy the day fishing. ‘Assala’ local fish has a very unique taste and is only found in this region.
- Hot Stone bath
- Jungle walk-bird watching Darap is situated at the door step of Khanchendzongna Biosphere Reserve (KBR) which is very rich in flora and fauna.
- Local Language Learning: Learn local languages -Limboo, Lepcha (Tribe of Sikkim), Bhutia and Nepali languages or even arrangement can be made to interact with the local school students (share your experiences) with them.
- Limboo Heritage House: Built in 1810 by Limboo Village Chieftain (Mondal). Traditional architecture
- Milking a cow: For those who have grown up in urban areas and wanted to know about rural life.
- Rani dunga Religious and nature trek (Darap to Neydham via Rani Dhunga)
- Singhalilla nature, culture and adventure trek in the Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve.
- Trekking into West Sikkim (Darap to Dzongri and the Goecha La)
- Yuma Meditation Centre. Find out about Yuma (goddess).
You will find small shops selling gift items, maps, postcards, water bottle, from Upper Pelling to Lower Pelling. Since Pelling is a tourist destination please be careful you may pay double the usual price.
There is only one bank and one ATM in Pelling, the State Bank of India and it does not exchange foreign currency or travellers cheques. It may also run out of cash, so bringing a sufficient amount from Gangtok or Siliguri may be a good idea. Facilities are available in Siliguri, Darjeeling or Gangtok. It best to carry ₹100 notes which can be used anywhere in Pelling.
- Lama Tenzing Wangdak's Place, Upper Pelling. (In Hotel Sonamchen, near to Norbughang Resort). Hand made Tibetan Thangkas and other touristic souvenirs are available here.
- Melting Point, Middle Pelling (Opposite Namsaling Residency), ☏ , . Happy hour is 5-7PM. Multi cuisine restaurant and bar.
- Big Chill, Upper Pelling (Hotel Pemaling Residency - Near School Ground - Old Helipad), ☏ , . Happy hour is 5-7PM. Multi cuisine restaurant and bar.
- Cloves Resto, Gyalshing Rd, ☏ . A variety of fresh Nepali and Indian dishes.
Places where you can eat and drink include The Treat, Pork, Deorali, Ladak Restaurant, Have More and many other small small joints where you can get momo and thukpa. You can also try tongba, a fermented millet wine served in a bamboo container with bamboo straw. The standard price of tingba is ₹50.
- The Big Chilled (Opposite Chiminda International). Happy hour 5-7PM
Home-stay accommodations for tourists are being organized by the Darap Eco-Tourism Committee at the houses of committee members. Sikkimise village culture and hospitality is distinctively friendly and open and guests are made to feel as though they are part of family and made welcome to join the village activities with their children, partners or group of friends. So far, the society has identified 30 houses for Home-stays, out of which six are the operators. Maintenance of other houses is under way.
Pelling is a small place with almost 80 to 90 hotels. Pelling's high season is during the months of September and October. Standard room rates vary between ₹500-800. Rates are more at Upper Pelling and progressively decrease as you approach Lower Pelling. Room rates may be halved during low-season. Most hotels are on the 2 km stretch of road between Upper, Middle and Lower Pelling. Hotels at Lower Pelling cater mainly for Indian visitors, hotels at Upper Pelling usually have nice views.
- Hotel Kabur, Upper Pelling, ☏ . Staff is helpful in arranging jeeps, storing luggage, etc., hot water only in the morning, fast but unreliable Wifi. Double room for ₹400, dorm available.
- Hotel Garuda, ☏ , , , firstname.lastname@example.org. Attached restaurant is quite good; however, the cleanliness of the kitchen may be questionable. No Wifi. Dormitory available for ₹150/night.
- Hill Retreat, Middle Pelling (Before reaching State Bank of India), ☏ , email@example.com. 7 rooms with a cozy bar, a little bit away from the other buildings. Amar Daju is a good a cook. Booking accepted by email.
- Phamrong, Upper Pelling, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ifseen Villa, Naku Pelling, Phone +91 99325 14333, e-mail: email@example.com. Family run enterprise known for superior hospitality, food, ambience, cleanliness.
- Elgin Mount Pandim, Mount Pandim (near Pemayangtse Monastery), ☏ . Set in eight acres of forest and landscaped gardens. It evokes the charm of its first owners, the royal family of Sikkim, with a glorious view of the Singalila range. Pemayangtse monastery is next to the resort. single halfboard ₹7,200, double ₹7,500 plus 10% service charge plus taxes.
- Norbu Ghang Resort, ☏ .
- (Just below the Kabur Hotel), ☏ . Fast internet. Owner operated business. ₹50/hr.
S.N.T Bus: only one bus is available to reach Siliguri Via Jorethang departing 7AM (₹120). Advance bus ticketing is available at SNT, Lower Pelling at their counter in Hotel Pelling, tel 03595 250 707.
Jeeps to Siliguri are available only at 7AM from Father Travels.
Jeeps are available at Father Travels at 7AM (Mr. Kancha Daju's Vehicle) and also at noon.