By Bhudeb Chakrabarti
Continuing from the narration of my travel to South and East Sikkim in Part I , here I describe my journey through West and North Sikkim.
Rangeet a spectacular river of silvery swirling waters with its source in a glacier of Lower Kanchenjunga Range in West Sikkim is fed by the melting snow and abundant monsoon rains. We travelled through interior West Sikkim and reached Geizing, the District Headquarters late night, after a gruelling road journey.
During my stay at Geyzing (also called Gyalshing) I visited Pemayangtse (Perfect Sublime Lotus) Monastery built in 8th century. It was a practice that every second son of three sons of a Bhutia family of pure Tibetan lineage were to be ordained as a monk of Pemayangtse Monastery and lead a life of celibacy. The monastery maintained the tradition of ‘Masked Dance’ during its Annual ‘Pang Lhabsol’ Festival in January- February.
Trekking routes from Yaksam, which is around 40 kms from Geyzing went right up to Kanchenjunga Range and Kanchenjunga National Park, one of the highest national parks in the world.
On my return journey from Geyzing to Gangtok, I went through Legship on the bank of Rangeet. Legship, known for the Kirateswar Mahdev Temple (Shiva Temple) was the gateway to West Sikkim.
A steep road from Legship took us to Tashiding, where we left our vehicle and started climbing slowly through the wooded hills.
Tashiding Monastery was on a high ridge situated between Rathong Chu River and Rangeet. The monastery had colourful prayer flags fluttering high in the breeze. A sublime peace pervaded the atmosphere and I was enthralled by an ethereal feeling in the sacredness of the monastery.
On the way back, Rabongla on the top of the hill (7800 feet) provided a majestic view of the snow -capped mountains in the twilight.
Finally I visited North Sikkim. The road from Gangtok to Mangan slowly descended from 5500 feet to 3000 feet with dense forests and numerous waterfalls. North Sikkim is the largest producer of cardamom in the world. It is the largest district of the state and has the lowest population in the State. Singhik, at a distance of 5 kilometres from Mangan offered a clear view of Kanchenjunga.
I travelled up to Yumthang at 12000 feet in North Sikkim, passing through the forests of crimson and yellow rhododendrons. Yaks, the only animal in the world to perform heavy work in high altitude are found in Alpine zone.
At a height of about 18000 feet above the permanent snow line is Gurudongmar Lake sacred to the Buddhists and Hindus alike. According to legend, Guru Padmasambhava, one of the founding fathers of Tibetan Buddhism, while returning from Tibet touched a portion of the Lake to provide clean drinking water to the people.
The polls for Sikkim Legislative Assembly Election were held on 16 November 1994, peacefully in line with the peaceful nature of the colourful people of Sikkim. A new political party Sikkim Democratic Front came to power.
I returned to Kolkata on completion of my assignment, bringing home with me the wonderful memories of this hidden paradise of India.
This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti, Dy IG (Retd) CRPF. He has commanded several Operational and Administrative functions in the force and has imparted training to gazetted officers of CRPF and other central & state police forces.
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