You won’t need a guide for this most rewarding circuit which has come to be known as the Monastery Trail, taking in the highlights of western Sikkim including several holy places and monasteries; do ask advice from either hotels Kabur or Garuda in Pelling, where you can pick up a rough map of the trail. Each section takes between 4–7 hours and the growing network of home-stays allows the intrepid trekker to explore off the beaten track. Most walkers start the popular 3–4 day trail from Pelling via Darap to Kecheopalri, then continue to Yuksom (with a steep descent and a knee-grinding ascent to the small town) where there are some decent hotels and home-stays. Continuing from Yuksom takes in monasteries such as Dubdi (above Yuksom), Hongri and Sinon before descending to Tashiding. To return to Pelling, walk down to Sakyung from where there is an unrelenting ascent to Pelling. Along with several extensions, alternative routes from Tashiding include walking to Borong, Ralang and Ravangla with a dip in a hot spring along the Rangit River; the advantage of this variation is that it would help you get on to the road for Gangtok. For trail information in Tashiding ask at Sanu’s home-stay.

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