(Last Updated on : 04/03/2014)
Sikkim is the perfect amalgamation of idyllic, majestic and spectacular beauty, snuggled within the Himalayan range. Divided into subdivisions of east, west, north and south, Sikkim hides wonder in each corner. West Sikkim is a haven for trekkers, owing to its high altitude. This beautiful land, characterzed by great tracts of virgin forest and deep river valleys, is home to ancient monasteries.
Places of Interest in West Sikkim
The Pemayangtse monastery is considered one of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim. It is situated within 137 km from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Lhatsun Chempo regarded as one of the worthy clergymen, to idolise established the Pemayangtse monastery. He had bagged the honour of performing the 'consecration ceremony of the first Choygal' in Sikkim. Choygal means 'religious Monarch'. The monastery was established with the aim to give it a classy feel, meant only for the chaste monks. A wooden structure is present inside the Pemayangtse Monastery. This structure generates the heavenly peace of the Maha Guru. It is however reckoned as the masterpiece created by late Dungzin Rimpoche. To experience the intensity of the monastery and the surrounding's foggy beauty, one can stay at Hotel Mt. Pandim located just crossways from the Monastery on a hilltop.
Pelling is another picturesque place to visit in west Sikkim. This magnificent landscape is situated at an elevation of 6,800 ft from sea level. Previously it was a small village; but today it has transformed into a fast growing urban settlement. The focal attracter of Pelling is its natural pictorial landscape and a magnified view of the overwhelming snow-capped Khangchendzonga. Pelling is situated high above the forest-embraced hills. Several options in accommodations are available like hotels, lodges etc. The city has a bus service that connects Pelling with the West District headquarter town of Gyalshing.
Rabdentse Ruins until 1814 AD was the second capital of the quondam Kingdom of Sikkim after Yuksom. The royalty ruled the state from Rabdentse Ruins. The Ruins have although become enshrouded from the main road. One needs to cover a walkable distance from the Pemayangtse monastery to reach the destination. The scenic view from the top is awe-inspiring- something to cherish in memory.
Sanga-Choling Monastery: T
he Sangacholing monastery is situated on a crest above Pelling and the far-famed Pemayangtse Monastery. The Monastery is also considered one of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim. The Sangacholing Monastery was established in 1697 AD. It takes a walk of 40 minutes through the steep hilly slopes.
The Khecheopalri Lake bears sacred significance to both the Buddhists and Hindus. The lake is covered with rich, dense forest. According to a sacred belief, 'birds do not permit even a single leaf to float on the lake surface'. The lake is reachable from Pemayangtse Monastery through a motorable road. The Tourism Department has provided a trekker's hut to spend a night or two in the amicable environment of the Khecheopalri Lake. There is also a pilgrim's hut, caretaken by the Tourism Department.
Yuksom is regarded the first capital of Sikkim. Historical accounts have cited evidences, proving that the first Chogyal of the Sikkim Empire was consecrated there. The Chogyal occurred in 1641 AD, presided by three highly educated lamas. Evidences of the Chogyal are preserved in the form of 'stone seats and a footprint of the Head Lama on the stone' at Norbugang Chorten. It is believed that history of Sikkim started happening from this place. Yuksom is well connected with roads. The Pemayangtse monastery is situated at a distance of 32 kms from Yuksom.
The Dubdi Monastery is situated above the Yuksom on a hilltop. It was formed soon after the 'consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal'. Dubdi Monastery is considered the first Monastery established after the first Chogyal.
With the sacred Mt. Khang-chen-Dzonga as a backdrop, Tashiding Monastery is situated truly on a premier location. It was established on a summit of a heart-shaped hill. According to Buddhist scriptures Guru Padma Sambhava (Guru Rimpoche) blessed the land of Sikkim with his divine grace in 8th century A.D. The Tashiding Monastery eventually was established by Ngadak Sempa Chempo in 18th Century A.D. Ngadak Sempa Chempo is regarded as one of the three lamas who had executed 'the consecration ceremony of the first Chogyal'. The Tashiding Monastery is far-famed for housing the most holy 'chorten'. This holy 'Chorten' is known as 'Thong-Wa-rang-Dol'. 'Thong-Wa-rang-Dol' literally means 'Saviours by mere sight'. Another interesting feature of the monastery is the sacred water festival, organised every year on the 15th day of the first Tibetan Month. The festival is known as 'Bhumchu Ceremony'. The ceremony is considered a unique religious tradition only to Tashiding Monastery. Devotees from far and near visit this place in order to obtain blessings of the holy water.
Ghezing and Legship
the bustling market town of Ghezing is the adminsitration centre and transport hub of western Sikkim and good place to stock up on provisions and extend permits. Legship, a gate to western Sikkim sits in the deep and recently dammed rangit Valley, 14km south to Ghezing. It is an important regional road junction and one where you could find yourself lost the spectacular natural beauty.