Pemayangtse Monastery, Pelling

I have been to this monastery so many times that I have lost count. Even though a bit touristy, Pemayangtse is undoubtedly the most gorgeous monastery of Sikkim. The three storeys of Pemayangtse are beautifully adorned with ancient paintings and bejeweled idols of various gods and goddesses of Vajrayana, including an exquisite collection of ancient scrolls and thangkas. 

Founded in 1705 by Lama Lhatsun Chenpo as a small lhakhang or temple this gompa flourished over the years under the patronage of the Namgyal Dynasty -- the first and the only ruling dynasty of Sikkim. Pemayangtse follows the most ancient school of Vajrayana, Nyingmpa sect of Tibetan Buddhsim. Nyingma sect is considered as the oldest school of Vajrayana Buddhism, established by none other than Guru Padmasambhava. 

This beautiful monastery is perched atop a hill 9km from Pelling town. It faces the hilltop that houses Rabdentse ruins, the dilapidated remains of the second capital of ancient Sikkim. Several traditional Lepcha houses are found in the vicinity of the gompa that one can spot in the documentary 'Sikkim' (1971) by Satyajit Ray.

Things to do while visiting Pemayangtse:

Visit the monastery during an off season if you are a true Tibetan Buddhism enthusiast. It feels much better without having those ignorant idiots following you around everywhere and making preposterous remarks. Honestly, if I could I would kill them all.

Don't forget to explore the museum section on the second floor. Again, a much better experience if done in the peace and quiet of solitude.

Take a walk in the monastery premises and a pay a visit to those Lepcha houses. They are protected monuments.

Do drop by Lotus Cafe en route and enjoy a cup of lemon tea while enjoying the beauty of serene woods. Their bakery items are delicious. And the entire income goes to the orphanage cum school for the underprivileged kids that they maintain just across the street.

Take a trip to the nearby Rabdentse ruins. However this trip takes a steep hike through the woods for about a kilometer that is better to be avoided during monsoon. Pelling is quite infamous for leeches.