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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Lachung – the Zumsa governed!!

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The night was very cold. But probably for the locals, it might be relatively warm. Usually it snows in Lachung till the month of March, but not this time 😀  Seven of us occupied a small room and it was pretty warm, might be because of the abnormal population which occupied it 😀 Yet another sound sleeps 🙂

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Hurrah! It’s a sunny day again. The day started with more like a poll. The poll was about whether we would like to trek to Yumthang on the same day or the next. As we hail from a democratic country, everyone has their own right to say what they feel and ultimately there will be a hung, the same happened there too. Half of us wanted to trek on the same day, while the other half wanted to do it the next. The deadlock got resolved with the intervention of our instructors and it was decided to continue the trek the next day.

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And what we gonna do all the day? Well, we’re going on a hike, not a long one though. We quickly finished off the puri sabji that has been served to us and got ready to go on a walk around the beautiful mountain village Lachung. Lachung, situated at an altitude of 9000 ft is about 115 kms from Gangtok and is the last village in North Sikkim before Yumthang. The village, spread out on either side of the river Lachung Chu, is surrounded by mighty mountains of which some are covered with snow and some not. And the beautiful waterfalls on almost all the mountains add to the charm of this little village.

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There are lots of hotels and lodges in this village; I think there is a 3-star hotel too. So accommodation is not a problem here and hence became an important tourist spot. There are small shops all along the roads; which sells all kinds of eateries and liquor, which the state is so famous for ;). We followed a road just beside the helipad located in Lachung. The narrow road bifurcates just after crossing the helipad. While the left one leads to Yumthang, the right one leads to the remote parts of this village.

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We took the right one, and this is one of the best so far. One can see that the nature is so beautiful as well as feel the wrath of it. Probably this is one the biggest marks of an Avalanche I have seen so far. Perhaps after 5 or 6 kms of walk, we reached a small monastery, sorry for not remembering it’s name (something like Chhuwa). It was so simple, yet very beautiful.. so peaceful with the positive vibes spreading throughout its premises. To my surprise, there was no one in the monastery as well as the premises. The sanctum was on an elevated platform and there were no lights inside except for some flickering butter lamps. I could see a statue of Buddha along with some statues of others, probably of Guru Padmasambava. 

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We were back by 2 pm and went on to a small walk to the helipad in the evening. It was rightly said that the weather is so unpredictable here. The day was so sunny, but by 4 pm the temperatures dropped so drastically and in a while it started to drizzle. We returned to our rooms and started the fun part of dancing and singing, as well as packing for the next days’ as it is going to be tougher.

Wait.. Wait.. Many of you might be thinking that I left something unsaid. The title of the post, right? Well, that is the most important feature of this little beautiful village. Lachung has a unique local and traditional self-government body called the Zumsa, a part of their rich tradition and culture. The Zumsa takes care of all the local disputes and are settled by a totally representative body of the village which is headed by an elected Pipon.

The best is yet to come! Stay tuned!!!

Gangtok – Land of Monasteries

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The last part of my Gangtok trip and also the most beautiful part which am gonna cherish through out my life 🙂

Sikkim is justly famous for monasteries. Red-clan Lamas, flickering butter lamps, colorful prayer flags (worth mentioning that these represent the five elements of nature – earth, sky, water, air and fire) and the melodious chanting are the part of the ambiance which this state offers us. Gangtok is also an important Buddhist place and is land of some 200 odd monasteries. Here are some important ones which I covered as a part of my trip.

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Enchey Monastery:

This is the oldest monastery (approx 200 years old) of Gangtok and is located 3 kms northeast of the city. This is the seat of learning for the Nyingma order (Vajrayana Buddhism), the 4th oldest belief of Tibet. It was established by Lama Druptob Karpo, a renowned exponent of tantric art. And the legend is that he came here flying from Maenam hill in south Sikkim. The Buddha, Loketeswara and Guru Padmasambhava are the important deities worshipped in the monastery.

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Rumtek Monastery:

The biggest monastery in Gangtok and is located on the outskirts of the city (around 23 kms) is on a hill, the seat of The Gyalwa Karmapa of the Kargyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. This monastery demonstrates the best of the Tibetan architecture and is an almost replica of the original monastery in Tsurpu in Tibet. The main building is three storied and the complex also has the Nalanda Institute of Higher Buddhist studies, the Dharma Chakra and the Golden Stupa. The monastery houses the Black Hat and some of the rarest Buddhist religious art objects found in the world. Perhaps, this is the only monastery which has got a high range of security on its’ premises.

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Ranka Monastery:

Also known as Lingdum monastery, is located about 20 kms from Gangtok. A relatively new monastery located in a vast area. This is the seat of Zurmang Kagyud lineage of Buddhism and follows the direction of the 12th successor of the lineage Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche. This turned out to be my favorite of all the earlier monasteries which I saw as this one was extremely peaceful and the view is just breathtaking. And there are many young lamas undergoing training here. This monastery is full of wall paintings, murals and scriptures which are placed orderly inside the main sanctum.Desktop3

The last monastery which I visited was the Tsuklakhang Palace or Tsuklakhang Royal Chapel and monastery is a Buddhist palatial monastery in Gangtok, and it has a lot of young lamas who studies there. This has a large depository of Buddhist scriptures and literature.

There is also a center for Tibetology in Gangtok where in which we can see their scriptures, statures of Buddha and many more. In all, Gangtok is not just a place to enjoy nature but also a place to learn, to know about one of the oldest religions in the world. Importantly, we can find all the different sects of Buddhists and their traditions here.

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In all, these monasteries took me to an altogether different world. A world of faith, belief and peace!! Thank you Gangtok. C u soon again!

I take this opportunity to dedicate this post to one of my new friends “AHEN”, who is eagerly waiting to visit monasteries and meet some Bikkhus!!