Monday, November 4, 2013

Sikkim : A mystic land

Sikkim is a truly mystical land, a confluence of advancement and mysticism. It is India’s least populated state, hosts Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak, have borders with Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal and only open border with China (Nathula-Pass). Very little is known about its history and it was added to the Indian Republic only in 1975.
gangtok
In pre-historic time it was inhabited by three tribes namely Naong, Chang and the Mon. The Lepcha tribe who entered later completely absorbed these tribes. Lepchas are believed to be the natives of the border area of Tibet and Burma. They were a very peace loving people, shy, worshipping nature and deeply religious, which can still be sensed among the present Sikkimese people.
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A monestry in Gangtok
An Indian monk Dipankar Srijana or “Atisha” visited Tibet in the 10th century.  He  led  a  missionary  journey  and  preached  celibacy &  moral  abstinence and  opposed  the  tantric  arts.  The Gelugpa or the reformed order, originated during this period of time. The Gelugpa sect is now headed by the Dalai Lama. The unreformed or the old order was the Nyingmapa, whose source of inspiration was the great mystic yogis of that time. The Nyingmapa trace their origins to the great yogi Milarepa. They resisted the reform of the Gelugpaand and maintained their beliefs in the tantric practices. The gap between the followers of the two sects deepened. In time, the Gelugpa sect, headed by the Dalai Lama, became the prominent influence in Tibet, while the Nyingmapa sought refuge in Sikkim. In  the  15th  and  16th  centuries Buddhism  was  introduced  in  Sikkim  primarily  due  to  this conflict  among  the Buddhists  of  Tibet.
Loaded with all these information, I was super excited to visit this mysterious land to understand more about its past and present. Moreover it was my Honeymoon trip so I wanted a least crowded destination than the popular one in North India, added with a charm of anonymity.
How to reach Sikkim
Air: Sikkim currently does not have any airports, the closest operational airport to Sikkim is Bagdogra Airport, near the town of Siliguri in West Bengal. The airport is about 124 km away from Gangtok.
Roads: NH-31 links Silliguri to Gangtok. Privately run bus, tourist taxis and jeep services are operated throughout sikkim, and also connect it to silliguri.
Rail: Sikkim lacks significant railway infrastructure. The closest railway station are Silliguri and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal.
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On the way to Gangtok
Staying options in Sikkim
Sikkim is gradually becoming a popular tourist destination in India. Though it is not easily accessible from all part of the country but is still preferred by the eastern states especially the people from West Bengal, who also has reputation of a frequent traveler. There are number of hotels in Sikkim, which offers quality accommodation at modest price. I stayed at hotel “White Mountain” which was at a walking distance from the famous M.G.Road of Gangtok.
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M.G.Road of Gangtok
My journey started from my home town Patna through Kamakhya Capital Express – 13248. It starts at 22.45 from Patna and reached New Jalpaiguri at 12.20. First time I have seen a train in which half of the compartment was 2nd AC and half was the 3rd AC, separated by a door within the same compartment. On reaching New Jalpaiguri we had an arrangement with the hotel and they send us a cab.
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Way to Darjeeling and Kalimpong
The journey was pleasant especially due to Teesta river which was accompanying us all along. Like mount Kanchenjunga, the rivers Teesta and Rangitt are an integral part of the consciousness of Sikkimese people. A series of dams has been proposed within the Teesta river system that aims to produce some 50,000 MW of electricity within the next 10 years. There are growing concerns that the building of these dams may lead to river induced seismic activity. It is suspected that the 2011 earthquake was result of these haphazard construction activities. I saw thick smoke coming out of the chimney of a industrial unit. Don’t know how much rules are following by these industries, wishing at the same time that in the fight of nature versus development, these pristine hills must not loose their tranquility.
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Industries for development or a ecology threat?
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Road to Gangtok
On the way, we faced a long traffic jam. The 125 km road from Silliguri to Gangtok was not in a good condition and somehow not adequate to handle the pile of traffic. En-route we stopped for a lunch of Momos and Chowmin, which was widely available along with the regular rice meal which is a favorite of Bengali population.  Finally we reached Gangtok around 8 in the night, took dinner, and doze-off for a promising day ahead.
Continued…

3 comments:

  1. really this is wonderful place for holiday ,thanks for sharing nice pics and story to introduce this place.

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  2. Hey keep posting such good and meaningful articles.

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  3. I really appreciate your professional approach. These are pieces of very useful information that will be of great use for me in future.

    ReplyDelete