Demazong – The hidden valley of rice..

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Something is missing. Isn’t it? It’s obvious that I was missing from past 4 or 5 days (Spiritual spree). Lol 🙂 But, I am saying about the thing that is missing from my North Sikkim trip. I gave a brief about all the places that I visited except Chungthang. Now, am gonna fill that gap. But, the title of this post says something else right? Don’t worry. The confusion will be cleared by the end of this post 😉

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Chungthang, a small town on the way to Yumthang, at a distance of 95 kms from Gangtok and an altitude of 5900 ft and stands at the confluence of the rivers Lachen Chu and Lachung Chu. Chungthang is surrounded by mountains and streams. It is very rich in bio-diversity with wide varieties of flowers and orchids. It has lots of small eatery shops, restaurants and of course liquor shops. There is no good accommodation available as such here.

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This small town is mired with myths and is full of legends. According to the legend, the Chungthang valley is believed to have been blessed by the Buddhist Guru Padmasambava (“the Lotus-born) also known as Guru Rinpoche. It is said that he visited this town before going to Tibet and left his footprint on a rock where he once rested. There is a small opening on this rock from where there is a continuous flow of water.

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It is also believed that Guru Rinpoche had grown some paddy here, which is supposed to be a miracle as paddy does not grow at such altitude and conditions. Later on, people earned their livelihood from growing paddy. And this is from where the word ‘Demazong’ (the Hidden valley of rice, as Sikkim is known) first originated. I think, the confusion is cleared now :p

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It is also believed that Guru Nanak Dev ji visited this place during his trip to China and Tibet. Guru Nanak Dev ji dug his walking stick at a place where eventually the stick has grown into a tree. A Gurudwara named Gurudwara Nanak Laama Sahib was built by officers of the Assam Rifles and Army personnel with the help of the local Lepcha tribe in the early eighties.

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While we stayed in a school compound on the way to Yumthang, we stayed in the Gurudwara on our way back to Gangtok. The Gurudwara provides accommodation to the pilgrims who pay a visit to the Gurudwara. It was quite a good accommodation, the beds and blankets, the washrooms and the hot water availability in such cool climate and the langar (kitchen) which provides tasty rotis and sabji to the visitors is truly relishing! Love to visit this place again 🙂

The end to my North Sikkim trip! Will be back soon with my Andaman Diaries 🙂

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Time to move on! Lachung is waiting!!

 

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Though the classrooms were way dark and pretty cool, we, at least I managed to grab some good sleep that night. My darling friend Shweta woke me up early in the morning around 4.30 AM and when moved out of the room to the open ground, that was one awesome scene with the twinkling stars up above the sky, the moon throwing some bright light and the tips of the surrounding mountains shining dim in the moon light. But, I couldn’t get a chance to capture that awesome scene as it was extremely difficult to find out my camera in that dark cosy classroom 😦

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It was a sunny day and the weather was clear. We packed our rucksacks and left for breakfast. Before moving on, we quickly cleaned up the surroundings and set on to the track for Lachung, our next base camp at around 7.30 AM. Lachung is a small mountain village located at an altitude of 8600 ft and a distance of about 110 kms from Gangtok and 25 kms from Chungthang. And we gonna trek this 25 kms in a single day. Though excited, we were a bit scared too. Scared not because of the distance, but coz of the off-road route which we gonna follow!

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The way to Lachung is through quaint villages, scenic spots, and waterfalls. The first leg is of 12 or 13 kms. It’s almost a road trek except for one or two shortcuts. We stopped at a roadside tea spot around 10 AM where we got some buns and tea as refreshments. After relaxing for a short span of 20 minutes, we resumed our trek towards Lachung. They told us that the next leg is of another 12 kms but it’s only at the end of the trek we realized that it is nearly 16 kms.

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The second leg is far more beautiful than the first leg, as there were lots of streams which cut right through the roads, some lush green agri fields probably of some millets or fodder, yaks, Rhododendrons, waterfalls and the beautiful Teesta River running all way along with us. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the trek as the short hikes through the forests were spine chilling, because of the narrow margins and rough terrain.

DSC_0245We could see more and more number of army people and their vehicles as were nearing Lachung. Before 1950, Lachung served as a trade point between Sikkim and Tibet and after the Chinese annexation, this has been shut down. The Indian Army now has a forward base at Lachung. Finally at around 3.30 PM we reached our base camp at Lachung. A hot meal was served to us and it felt so good to have something hot after a long trek.

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We had lots of fun before having our dinner and retiring to our beds. Lucky enough to get a bed to sleep, but not in the sleeping bag 😀 .  Stay tuned to see what’s waiting for us in Lachung!!

Adieu Gangtok.. Here we come Chungthang!!

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It’s time to move from Gangtok to our final destination Yumthang – the valley of flowers enroute Chungthang and Lachung. And the plan is to reach Chungthang by bus, and to follow a permissible route along the Teesta River to the picturesque riverside village of Lachung and then trek to Yumthang. The route to Chungthang is via Kabi Longtsok, Phodong, Mangan (head quarters of North Sikkim).

JpegWe celebrated Holi – the festival of colors in Gangtok and around 2 pm, set on our journey  to Chungthang, a valley located at a distance of about 100 kms from Gangtok in our buses.  Our first halt on the way was Kabi Longtsok, which is at a distance of about 11 km from the Northern Highway of Gangtok. Kabi Longtsok is a historical place where the colonists from Tibet settled down in the early 14th century.

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This spot has witnessed a historical event which came to be known as “the treaty of blood brotherhood”. It was a treaty of friendship in between the Lepcha chief and the Bhutia king to encourage the religious tolerance amongst devotees and people around the state. A stone pillar was also there in memory of this event. The lush green surroundings made this place spell bound. There is also a belief associated with this place. The belief is that if we construct a small stone building and pray for our wishes to come true, they would come true. We too tried our hands at it and succeeded in erecting some stone buildings.

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The road leading to Chungthang from here is very rough and narrow, especially filled with large size stones and boulders. The real fun is when there comes a bridge and we all have to get down our buses and cross over the bridges so that our buses and we would be safe :p. 

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Unfortunately a huge stone got stuck in between the back tyres of one of our buses, and we turned out to be fortunate as this gave us a chance of enjoying the scenic beauty of North Sikkim. After struggling for about an hour, finally our drivers succeeded in removing the stone and we resumed our journey. We reached Chungthang around 7 pm and our accommodation was arranged in a school premises which has no electricity.

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As it was the month of March, the weather was a bit stable throughout our journey and was relatively warm. But there was a drastic drop in the night temperature and it was very cold in Chungthang. We turned the classrooms into our bedrooms for the night by spreading out carry mats and sleeping bags.

Let me sleep tight tonight, so that I can trek down to the beautiful Lachung tomorrow 🙂 😀