Pemayangtse Monastry, Sikkim, India

Literally translated as ‘Perfect Sublime Lotus’, the Pemayangtse gompa is one of Sikkim’s oldest and most significant Nyingmapa gompas. Magnificently set on a hilltop (2100m) overlooking the Rabdentse ruins, the atmospheric compound is ringed by gardens and traditional cottages used by the resident monks.

The ground floor features a central Buddha, while upstairs fierce-looking statues depict all eight reincarnations of Padmasambhava. On the top floor is an astounding seven-tiered model representing Padmasambhava’s heavenly abode of Zangtok Palri, handmade over five laborious years by a single dedicated lama.

During Februaryand March, impressive chaam dances celebrating Losar culminate with the unfurling of a huge gyoku (giant embroidered thangka) and the zapping of evil demons with a great fireball.

Pemayangtse is 1.5km from Upper Pelling, along the road to Geyzing, and is easily combined with a visit to Rabdentse. The signposted turn-off is near an obvious stupa.

Visit India Epic India Route © Monika Newbound

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