All you need to know before visiting Pelling!
Pelling was our last stop in the entire journey throughout Sikkim. After taking quick halts at Siddhesvara Dham in Namchi, we headed straight to Pelling without any further delay. This city is located on the western side of Sikkim, away from the border areas & hence no permits of any kind are required if you include it in your itinerary. Also, Pelling is the quieter version of Gangtok with less tourists and travelers and more greenery.
Road-trip across Sikkim is only possible during the day due to bad road conditions & poor visibility. Due to this we reached late in the evening and decided to just relax from all the bumpy ride that we just came from. All I observed during the entire journey was the nature, the more we were nearing Pelling, the more denser and greener it was. There were all those small streams flowing next to the road and also there were some huge waterfalls. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many waterfall all at once. But that’s the beauty of Sikkim. It just takes your breath away!
PELLING ITINERARY & THINGS TO DO:
DAY 1: Rimbi Falls – Rock Graden – Khecheopalri Lake – Kanchendzonga Falls – Yuksum valley
Sikkim has so many water falls that it’s almost impossible to visit them all at once. Hence, visiting the highlights turns out to be the best solution unless one knows of any secret hideout or a waterfall less visited by people. Rimbi waterfalls is just around the road where one can witness the beauty of the nature for a while. There are apparently no shops around to enjoy it with a cup of chai (tea), but one can simply gaze at the beauty and take back home some beautiful photos. The rock gardens on the other hand is a place to completely chill amidst the orange and the cardamom plantations. One can buy local foodstuffs from a shop inside the garden for daily cooking. And heading downwards, one will find a river flowing through the rocks for people to sit back and chill.
Kanchenjunga falls, is beautiful indeed, however during the peak season, it tends to get overcrowded. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth a stop. Waterfalls in Sikkim are best viewed during rainy season when there’s abundance of water. This small state has plenty of waterfalls and locating one isn’t a tough task.
Khecheopalri Lake is a peaceful and serene lake which is just 10 minute walk from the main entrance. The view itself is so serene, it makes one feel at peace. It’s also said that making a wish at this lake comes true. So will you try it out the next time? Let me know what you’ve wished for.
DAY 2: HIKE – PEMAYANGSTE MONASTERY – RABDENTSE RUINS – SINGSHORE BRIDGE
The owner of the place where we stayed at (check below) believed in giving us local authentic experience and also believed in taking us to offbeat places. Early in the morning he took us on an half an hour hike to the second oldest monastery of Sikkim. This monastery, named Sangla Choeling, was built by his ancestors, where he also explained us more about the Sikkimese culture. Right next to the monastery were some young monks learning chants in the school. After spending about an hour we came back to our abode and later dressed up to visit other places.
After the hike, we left for the most visited monastery in Sikkim: The Pemayangste Monastery. It was built in the year 1705 and even today holds certain artifacts dating back to centuries old. One has to simply visit it to enjoy it. After that visiting the Ruins of Rabdentse is highly recommended if you wish to take a walk in the nature. To reach the ruins one has to take a 15-20 minutes walk through thick green forest and just admire the nature around. At the end don’t forget to head straight to the world’s second highest hanging bridge: the Singshore bridge. It’s surely going to leave you spellbound.
HOW TO REACH PELLING:
Reaching Pelling can be quite a challenging task as the nearest train station & airport is almost 5-6 hours. The only way to reach is through roads which are not that well-maintained. However, that’s the whole beauty of reaching this city.
BY AIR: The nearest airport is the Bagdogra airport. One can find several private taxis from outside the airport which goes till Pelling. This airport is almost 140 km and it can easily take 5-6 hours considering you make 1-2 halts in the way.
BY TRAIN: New Jalpaiguri is the nearest railway station which is 137 km from Pelling. One can find plenty of shares & private taxis from the train station. For shared taxis one needs to change over at Jorethang and take another shared taxi to reach Pelling.
SHARED JEEPS & TAXIS TO PELLING
If you plan to take a shared jeep or taxi, it will be a whole lot cheaper to reach Pelling. These shared services are available only from the train station on a per person charge for a maximum of 10 persons in the vehicle. The taxi will be taking several halts in different towns for pick up & drop off. The charges for the same is anywhere between Rs 200/–500/- from the train station.
Private taxis usually has a fixed rate & can be found either from the train station or from the airport. Make sure to take a private taxi which has a Sikkim registration number plate. You can find taxis waiting to get customers as they have already dropped off people coming back from Gangtok/Pelling. The prepaid counters will usually give you a West Bengal state registered taxi because both airport and the train station are in West Bengal, so West Bengal taxis get the preference. However you can go out and find a Sikkim taxi directly. Taxis can be a small one for 4 people or a bigger one for 7 people and it’s the best way to go travel if you’re in a group as the per person cost will be a bit cheaper. Small taxi fare starts from Rs. 2500/- and bigger one starts from Rs. 3500/-.
WHERE TO STAY?
Phamlagang EcoLodge where I stayed in this city was one of the best stays that I’ve had in all the places I’ve ever visited. The owner was so kind and took us to different off-beat places to make our stay more comfortable. The food prepared at his place was from his own farm fresh vegetables. We tried local food which was usually not available in cafes & restaurants. Last but definitely not the least – The view from the room was simply overwhelming!
However, you can also compare & choose from other options here: Where to stay
HOW MUCH DOES EVERYTHING COST & HOW TO ALLOCATE THE BUDGET?
One great thing about this city is that it caters to all types of travelers depending upon your budget. There are cheap places and great places to stay & at the same time there are hotels which are completely draped in the lap of luxury. It all depends upon how much you are willing to spend. The cost to stay here for two starts from $25 and upwards (Rs. 1700/- & above). And if you’re lucky you might find places which are even cheaper. This city completely thrives on tourism as their source of income & hence competition in the hotel industry is quite fierce.
Transport is comparatively expensive out of all the things mentioned. People who are here to travel have to use the transport services provided by the state. There are government registered private & shared taxis which are the common mode of transportation throughout the state. If travelling in a group, it’s always better to go in a private taxi & if travelling solo or as a couple, then shared taxi is preferred to minimize the overall cost. The cost starts anywhere from $50 & above (Rs. 3500/- and above) depending upon the places you want to visit. There’s no scope of bargaining with the taxi drivers as the cost is fixed by the Government itself. One can book taxis through your hotel. It’s always better to know the price of the taxi beforehand which you can confirm from your hotel.
The food scene in Pelling is quite different from that of rest of the country. I will definitely recommend eating out than trying to cook by yourself especially when you’re in this city. Although cooking is definitely cheaper, I’m sure missing out on the Sikkimese cuisine will definitely make you regret your decisions to cook. If you think food is expensive then well that’s not the case unless you plan on eating in a super fancy restaurant.
The cost can start anywhere from $1 – $3 (Rs 70- Rs. 200). Sikkimese people eat plenty of pork & beef with rice as their staple food. Don’t even think about missing out on Thupka & momos. I can literally live on just these two things. Yumm!
There are plenty of things to do in Pelling some of which I have already mentioned above. The entire state of Sikkim is more about nature and mountains which is mostly free of cost. At some places one needs to pay a very minimal entrance fee, overall it’s quite cheap!
Pelling is a quaint city with nature in abundance. People usually visit the capital city Gangtok and often skip this mesmerizing counterpart, which gives us all the more reason to go there and explore it. With minimal crowd & so much to offer, Pelling should definitely be on everyone’s bucket-list!
Watch the YouTube video here: Sikkim: India – Nature at it’s best
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