Pemayangtse Gompa

Buddhist Monastery in Pelling
The ornate facade of Pemayangtse gompa © Joe Bindloss / Lonely Planet
The ornate facade of Pemayangtse gompa © Joe Bindloss / Lonely Planet

One of Sikkim’s oldest and most significant Nyingmapa monasteries, Pemayangtse (literally ‘Perfect Sublime Lotus’) is 500m off the Geyzing road – turn north 2.2km east of Upper Pelling. It can get overwhelmed by domestic tourist groups, but it's atmospherically backed by traditional wood-and-stone monastic cottages descending from a 2080m hilltop towards the Rabdentse ruins.

There has been a Buddhist shrine on the site since 1647. The oft-remodelled central temple's most memorable attraction is the top-floor's seven-tiered model representing Zangtok Palri (Padmasambhava’s heavenly abode), handmade over five laborious years by a single dedicated lama. The surrounding attic passage contains an underlit, museum-like collection of costumes, implements and remnants from previous incarnations of the monastic buildings.