India // Sikkim //

Ravangla and Maenam


Spread across a high saddle, 65km west of Gangtok and 52km east of Pelling, the sleepy market town of RAVANGLA (also known as Ravang and Rabang) makes for a convenient stopover, especially for those interested in trekking through one of the last remaining rhododendron forests in south-central Sikkim where the fabulous Maenam Sanctuary remains a botanist’s dream, covering the flanks of the gigantic forested peak which looms over the town.

Ravangla itself has a sizeable Tibetan settlement, with a handicrafts centre and shop at the Kheunpheling Carpet Centre in the refugee camp to the south. Steps north of the bazaar lead to a brand-new Nyingmapa monastery dedicated to Shakyamuni and Guru Rimpoche accompanied by stucco images of the wrathful protectors, alongside the old gompa within a recently landscaped garden graced by impressive dry-stone walls. This is the site of the annual three-day Pang Lhabsol festival in late August, which celebrates the worship of Kanchenjunga and draws thousands of Sikkimese to enjoy the traditional sports and Pangtoed Chaam, a festival of masked dances unique in that it is performed here, not by monks, but by zigtempas or lay people.

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