Gurdwara Nanaklama Sahib

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This wonderful historical Gurudwara is situated in Chungthang, which is a town in North Sikkim, an Indian state. Sikkim is a small but beautiful landlocked state nestled in the Himalayas in northern India. It is situated at the confluence of two rivers: River Lachen and Lachung Chu, both tributaries of the "most scenic" River Teesta. The thumb-shaped state borders Nepal in the west, the Chinese Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and east, Bhutan in the south-east and the Indian state of West Bengal to its south.

Chungthang is located in this state at a distance of 95 kilometres from the capital Gangtok, at an elevation of 1,700 metres (5,600 ft). Guru Dongmar is a lake at a height of 18,000 feet alongside a glacial peak known by the same name. The lake remains frozen most of the year due to heavy snowfall for almost six months each year.

History

It is believed Guru Nanak Dev ji visited this place during his trip (Udasi) to China and Tibet. Guru Nanak Dev ji dug his walking stick at a place where eventually the stick has grown into a tree which has trunk in stick shape and leaves are below the rounded trunk which looks like handle of stick. An amrit kund was also made to appear there by Guru ji. Guru Nanak visited the place during his third udasi in order to solace the Karma pa Nying ma pa sect then being hounded out from Tibet by the Ge lug pa sect. It is also said that Guru Nanak, on one of his journeys along with his disciples, had come across this place and vanquished two demons here before proceeding. The footprints of that battle were believed to be still left on that cordoned off rock. It is also said that Chungthang derived from the Punjabi, “Changa sthan” or good place, which Guru Nanak had bestowed on it. This however seems a little far-fetched

Gurudwara Nanaklama

Guru Nanak reaching Guru Dongmar

Many from the Karma pa Nying ma pa sect were the followers of Guru Nanak, as their Head Lama became Guru Nanak's followers in Kailash Mansarovar area after being impressed by Guru Nanak's discussions with the famous Sidhas of the age. This sect had fled from Tibet to the Himalayan belt of Northern India, which included Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttra-Khand, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Arunachal Pradesh. Records show that during his journeys to the Himalayas and the Far East, including China, Guru Nanak visited all these states around 1516 AD. After his visit to Kailash-Mansarovar, Guru Nanak returned along Kali River and went to Nepal, where an ancient Gurdwara at Kathmandu, on the bank of river Bishnumati commemorates his visit. Visiting various religious places in Nepal, he crossed over to Tibet through Nanak-la-pass and reached Sakya monastery. The earlier king of Tibet from Karma-pa sect was, by then, deposed by the Ge-lug-pa sect but was still holding on to this monastery. Guru Nanak helped Trasung Deochung reconstruct this monastery. Trasung Deochung honoured him with a robe that is preserved in Lachen Gompha.

From Tibet, Guru Nanak entered Sikkim through Chhorten Nyi ma la. Passing through Dolma Sampa and Tongpen, he entered Muguthang valley where he visited Kedang, Bendu, Sherang, Lyingka, and Muguthang. He went through Naku la and Lawu Gompha and reached plateau area around Guru Dongmar.

Problems Of Grazers

In this plateau the yak grazers approached Guru Nanak with a request, that: "they do not find water in winter as it gets frozen all over, temperature falling down to minus 35 degrees. "The Guru hit the perpetually snow-covered Guru Dongmar Lake with his stick to provide water to the grazers. The ice melted giving way to crystal clear water. Since then the water of the lake is stated to never freeze. The lake and the hill feature atop have come to be known as Gurudongmar Lake and hill respectively. The same names are found recorded in the ancient maps prepared by the British in nineteenth century. Some grazers projected another problem to Guru Nanak. Due to the effect of altitude, their virility was affected. They requested the Guru to do something about it. Guru Nanak blessed the lake, saying,"Whosoever takes the water of this lake will gain virility and strength and will be blessed with children." The people of the area have firm faith in Guru's words and consider the water of the lake as nectar. A Gurdwara was constructed in the eighties to commemorate Guru Nanak's visit to the place. We used to trek to Gurudongmar then, after travelling from Chungthang on foot, covering the distance in six days. The local people of the area and Lamas of Karma-pa Nying-ma-pa Sect confirm Guru Nanak's visit to these areas. The Lamas from these areas have been visiting Golden Temple, Amritsar, regularly to pay obeisance to their beloved Guru Rimpoche, Guru Nanak, also known as 'Nanak Lama in their areas.

Guru Ji headed towards Bhutan

Guru Nanak's footprints, a robe and a water-carrying utensil (kamandal) are preserved in Lachen Gompha, Sikkim, commemorating his visit to the place. From Gurudongmar, Guru Nanak went to Thangu, Lachen, Chungthang, Lachung, Yumthang and Pyakochin. At Chungthang a Gurdwara, a tree grown out of Guru's stick, footprints of the Guru, a spring, and the rice-fields blessed by Guru Nanak commemorate Guru Nanak's visit. At Pyakochin, an engraving on stone, in Gurmukhi script, was earlier preserved to commemorate the visit of Guru Nanak. From Pyakochin the Guru is stated to have crossed over to Chumbi Valley through Ghora-la, en-route to Bhutan.

Construction of Gurudwara

The present Gurdwara structure was built by officers of the Assam Rifles and Army personnel with the help of the local lepcha tribe in the early eighties. The area was restricted to service personnel and local people due to its strategic location near the border with China from the early eighties to 2005. The Assam rifles were transferred in September 2004 raising problems arose for the upkeep for the the Gurdwara. On 24th April 2005, "The Tribune" newspaper reported that the Gurdwara Nanklama at Chungthang Sikkim was opened to public and devotees for services. The Gurdwara was constructed after full inquiries from head lamas of Buddhist monestories (gomphas) at Fudong, Chungthang, Lachen, Lachung and Thangu and all the local people, and with their active help.

The author of this article crosschecked the above details given by various lamas from over fifty elderly people of the area. Lachen lama even promised to show the old records preserved with him that had an account of Guru Nanak's visit to the area. Staying as an "Observation Post Officer" at the height adjoining the lake, for over three months in 1987 and later in other areas adjoining, the author oversaw the development of the Gurdwara. People from all religions thronged the lake and the Buddhists had their regular fair on the lake.

They always paid obeisance at the Gurdwara with reverence. There was no question of any ill will. A Hindu temple was constructed in 1989 touching the Gurdwara, but was removed soon after mutual consultations. Thereafter everything remained cordial till 1994, as regularly watched by this author, who was operative in Sikkim and remained in touch with the Gurdwara till then. Later too, groups of Sikh pilgrims inspired by this author kept on visiting the gurdwara yearly without caring for the great hardships they had to face during the travel. They had all the goodwill of the local people and have sweet remembrance of their treatment.

Travelogue to Chungthang and Gurdwara Nanaklama

April 2006


World / India / Sikkim / Mangan, 15 km from center Coordinates: 27°36'25"N 88°38'44"E


Chungthang

Gateway to Yumthang Valley (Lanchun) and Gurudongmar Lake (Lacheng). Confluence of two main tributaries to form Teesta River. A facinating place to stay.

Guru Nanak Lama Gurdwara: Walk In His Steps.

Symbolic thoughts allow us to think abstractly, analyze the past, and anticipate the future. So under such circumstances I have taken the liberty to “Walk in His Steps”. At places I conjure the panoramic view as it may have been; but places and trails remain real.

Around 1500 A.D., a great preacher, devotional singer, and a great orator accompanied by two of staunch followers stepped on the soil of Bengal…

South Bengal was already under the influence of Sufi teacher Chaitanya-(1485 - 1531). Chaitanya was a great devotee of Lord Krishna, the Hindu God, and introduces kirtan (devotional songs sung in praise of Lord)

As Bengal is criss-crossed with many rivers, it is expected that the three travelers arrived at the bank of Ganga, near Malda (Central Bengal - it was and is still a crossing point) to cross over to the North of Bengal and beyond Malda is/was a prominent town, famous for traders to barter and vend goods across the river Ganga. Today Farrakka Barrage cum bridge, a few kilometers long has made travel fast and easy. Both land and rail traffic flow across it.

After giving sermons and entering into discourse with the local religious groups, and nobles the trio crossed the mighty Ganga and made their way to the plans of North Bengal. In those days Jalpaiguri, and Coochbehar were bigger and prominent area, but Siliguri was the transit point to north east of India, and the hills of Darjeeling, Sikkim, Tibet and China. Even today it plays the same role, but has grown in prominence in comparison to Jalpaiguri and the district of Coochbehar.

From the records available and the verbal confirmation of the elder folks of this area, Siliguri in those days acted as the nodal point for travel and trade routes to the hills. The bank of the local river Mahanada acted as the focal point of meeting and exchanging of goods from the hills to the plans and vice versa.

It can be assumed that these mystic personalities took rest, and started there onward journey to the mysterious hills and finally to Tibet and China.

Bank of Mahanada river, with vast open space, and the area where the present Gurudawara stands, was once the resting and watering point of the mule-train that came down from the hills. The ever expanding town has gulped downed most of the open area, but before the Gurudawara was constructed in the year 1887 I can well recall seeing water trenches made from the hollowed out tree trunks in and around the empty and muddy bed of the river.

“…..people used dhoolie, pony, tonga or bullock carts….” Still it took 15 days to travel from Calcutta to Siliguri.

In fact the prominent road leading from Siliguri to Darjeeling is called the Hill Cart Road, and in the year 1970 when I went to a school in Darjeeling; I can recall that in the vicinity of Sonada and Ghoom (7000 feet) bullock carts plying up and down from the outer fringes of Darjeeling. In fact the carts had hand brakes unique to this area!!

Near the foothills “……..here there was a roadside stable for the hill ponies which were patiently tethered for hire, and also a line of dandies with the coolies…..the dandy often swayed alarmingly as we negotiated the steeper slopes or hairpin bends…”..( 1934).

One can well imagine the situation in the year 1500 A.D.

In the initial stages our mystic group must have faced the mosquito menace, as the area was/is prominent for malaria one of the biggest man killer of the area. Interestingly the area was/is also the house of elephants, cheetah, wild boar, snakes, and Dakus.

And, after crossing the dense jungles of the terrain region the group started the hard treacherous journey to the hills. Crossing the dense woodlands the group started negotiating ravines, climbing the stony ridges, pressed forward through the speedy flowing waterfalls, and rivulets full of leeches ever ready to stick to legs and feet and suck blood.

Imagine, three persons with long flowing beards and carrying a few daily useable utensils walking along such paths. Trudging along in their knee long chollas with walking sticks in one hand, made from a branch of a local growing plant, and two of his companions in similar attire, and one them holding a musical instrument called rabbab; they must have attracted a lot of attention from the simple local folks. The leader was a great singer, and the music of the rabbab must have been music of divine order for the listeners in the hills and mountains.

But for us besides the many other interesting observations was as to how a person wearing wooden kharamas ( it is a pair of slippers made from wooden plank, with a wooden peg placed between the thumb and the long finger) negotiated the steep mountain paths, and the ice cold water of the springs and rivers?

So onwards they walked meeting strange persons, teaching the words of love and, singing devotional psalms. They were introduced to new ways of food habits, the local flock songs, and a dialect so new and the language not heard by the people from the place they had come. The language the biggest barrier came crashing down as the devotional songs and the music of rabbab echoed from hills to mountains. The love for music is a known trait of the hill people.

As the journey progressed so did the change in the climate. Away from the hot and humid planes of North Bengal the trio received the first dab of cool breeze. Covering just ten kilometers or so from Siliguri they encountered the gigantic Tista. From a distance it looked a lazy water carrier, but in monsoon it deluged all that came in its contact. Now, wide, lamely, alluring, meandering through the jungles, flowing south to meet the Brahmaputra and ultimately mingle with Ganga At this stage the trio had left behind about a month’s journey back.

In 1887, writes an eye witness that it took 15 days to travel from Calcutta to Siliguri, with servants, proper cooks, and in the comfort of slow swaying bullock carts and guards to protect!! But, our mystic group trotted along the fast treacherous and the dangerous ever expanding Tista. In the monsoon season it actually swallows the slopes and causes land slides so huge that negotiating them means taking a life and death decision.

“……During monsoons the otherwise innocuous looking rivers of Sikkim become swollen, swift, muddy and dangerous. The rivers are narrow, serpentine and full of rocks and hence are not navigable. Because of swift currents hitting rocks, the rivers are very noisy and can be heard for miles together. …….” Motivated to spread message of love they moved on….

After Siliguri the next important halt for the mule train laden with goods for inner Sikkim, Tibet and finally into China is / was Tista Bazaar. While all this time the travelers walked along the western flank of the Tista River, now they had three options. One, stay on the western side and keep moving north, secondly, cross the river at this junction and move via the eastern path into Kalimpong and beyond to Gangtok and Nathula Pass into Tibet. But, they took the third path, which is walking along the edge of the river, but on the eastern plank.

As our travelers were moving in the northerly direction, and further up in the northern parts, we have tentative evidence of their visit; hence, we assume they took this eastern path, hugging the Tista River. After passing Rangpo, about 80km from Siliguri, the next important post was Singtam. From this place two paths lead to China. Firstly, the east bound via Gangtok, the next, still clinging to the forceful river, up via jungle clad ridges interlaced with small farms and crossing deep ravines on to Dikchu.

From drowsy Dikchu village, the trio had the first glimpses of the ice-capped ridges to the north and west of River Tista. To the west the Singalila range the boundary with Nepal. And located on this ridge is Mt.Khangchendzonga, (28.000ft). The most sacred Mt. of Sikkim. Even to this day mountaineers are not permitted to set their foot atop its peak. Truly visible from all corners of the state Mt.Khangchendzonga an awe inspiring simmering icy crown of Sikkim.(photo) Located among the green valley, and dotted with cardamom bushes and orange trees lies Mangan, this outpost is the entry point to the restricted country of North Sikkim. After climbing down the precipitous route, and accompanied by other traders, pilgrims, and common folks they stepped into the ice-cold water of River Tista. Here the Tista has narrowed down to a few meters. Several huge white and sparkling waterfalls were flowing from lofty cliff faces.

Furthermore, the group was ready to cross the river via the ingenuously built bamboo bridge swaying, tilting and dancing across the roaring Tista. (photo) Moving down the canyon roads, here blocks of jagged black rocks rise up as steep walls with deep green foliage tenderly hugging it and soft moss oozing droplets into the river below. From this point the River Tista was crossed the second time, from the east bank to the west flank. At this juncture the gradation of the road started to increase. Looking in every direction the mountains were high and densely covered with ever green plants but some deciduous foliage was also visible near the misty valley floor.

The mysterious three plodded on cutting through wild tangle of hill plants, knee deep vegetation and skipping across ravines and maneuverings over wily leaches. Final at one bend over the ridge, and nestling on the flat slope of a steep hill surrounded by rocky peaks densely covered with ever green trees stood Chungthang. Chungthang , Stands at the confluence of River Tista (south) and River Lachunchu (S.E.) perched on a level patch of fertile land.

And in every direction and at the unimaginable hill slopes fluttered the numerous coloured prayer flags. Behind the steep mountains, and in all the four direction, ice capped peaks stand as guardians to this mysterious triangular nook. Nature had blessed it with a unique location and a position. On the three sides rocky ice peaks stands as the sentinels to prevent all who intend to come with evil intentions. At the fourth point, through a narrow gorge flows the ever singing and, bouncing, River Tista. Another small skipping and frothing River Lachunchu joins the Tista; and both mingle and run down to the south from the direction from where our Baba and his two disciples had just come. Also, visible now very near and clear stood the majestic peak of Naremchu, which had become visible near Mangan.

So one glorious day, our mystic personality; Baba Nanak with Balla and Mardana set his foot in this romantic quaint village; occupied by God fearing simple hill folks – Lepchas. They hailed him as Guru Rimpoche – the holy incarnated one. Welcome to Chungthang

Year 2006 April 31st.

“Walk in His Steps”. Chungthang.

7:30 a.m. On an early summer morning after about 550 years I was to travel along the path taken by Baba Nanak and his two disciples Mardana, and Balla. After a hot cup of tea served by Siliguri Gurudawara we proceeded in buses and private vehicles. It was a warm humid day with, clear sky. Accompanied by a group of 175 members we left for Chungthang.

With a “jaikara”, our bus no. 3 moved ahead. At was a mini bus, to accommodate 25 persons. All the seats were occupied, and each person had been provided with drinking water and a packet of snacks courtesy by some goodhearted person. Moving fast through the empty town streets, we soon reached the foothills. With the change of gears the bus started the steep climb. Crossing jungle clad ridges, deep ravines, patches of land slide areas, many new and a few old rickety bridges we sped on. To the right we watched the Tista meandering south to meet its age old partner the Brahmaputra River. While Tista on its south bound passage swallowed all the smaller frothing rivers. Similarly our vehicle gulped kilometer after kilometer moving north. One by one emerald valleys were conquered, ridges scaled, and as small singing springs were left behind as we arrived at Rangpo 75 k.m. from Siliguri. But the Tista, in its peacock blue attire, now to our left side was our constant companion. Three hours or so into this trip, most of us were travel weary, drowsy, hungry, and mentally calculating the time left for the trip to end- just give a thought to the trip by Baba Nanak and his companions, trudging along a much smaller narrow path, full of rocks, and other natural hurdles!! By 12.00 noon; at Rangpo, a philanthropic person provided hot tea to go with chana and puree for the weary group. All 175 of us crowded in to the small area and enjoyed ever bit of the snacks. Otherwise drowsy children became alert and dragged their parents into near by eateries and bullied them to purchase packet of chips and toffees. After a halt of half an hour our caravan moved a head. While we rode in the comfort of vehicles, munching snacks and drinking cold bottled water; I wonder how the Guru jee managed his days. The group singing the praises of Guru Nanak moved on. The next town was Singtam, (10 km from Rangpo) located almost at the valley level; warm and dusty owing to lot of construction work being carried in and around it. No halt at this place. We were in a hurry to make for the time lost at the last halt. Leaving behind Singtam, Makha, and Dikchu, we arrived at Mangan. “The Cardamom King of the World”, claimed the bill board to the entry of this small neat settlement. With the endorsement (police) of restricted area travel documents our vehicles moved ahead. North Sikkim is still like “a lost continents” and only the locals were allowed entry to this mysterious mist clad heavy forested mountain terrain. Even today outsiders are not allowed to buy property in this area. This is the Lepcha realm. Every hill, mountain, brook, nook, trees, shrubs, birds, animals and paths have Lepcha names. Lepchas know of ever leaf that heals others that kill, and which are the magical herbs! The local medicine man cum healer is called the “yeba”, and in their state of ecstasy they can tell of past, present and the future; yeba also act as the local herb dispensers. Watching the sun rays trying in vain to pierce the dense green pine trees our bus rolled on. Each bump took us a few steps nearer to our destination. At places the road was very steep, with sharp bends, and full of pot holes. From time to time we had to halt as conservation and maintenance were being carried out by the special road repairing organization. (BRO) At places huge boulders had almost blocked the path, and passing under them was a frightening hair rising experience; especially for the first time travelers. Majority of the individuals uttered “Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru”; others sat tense with wide eyes and gaping mouth, transfixed with fright, and no words escaped from their throats. And I simply aimed my camera and clicked a few more snaps for this article. 3:00 pm. Leaving behind the picture-post card view of Mangan, we rolled along narrow roads, and almost at the river bed arrived at another police check post. This check post is located at a very pictures valley with Tista just flowing a few feet down a steep narrow gorge. Though the boulders in river try as much as they may, the emerald water climbs over them or froth past them leaving the rocks polished and slimy. While our papers were being checked, I walked down to the edge of the moss covered cliff, and took a few photographs. At this juncture the river kept its roar at a minimum; hence, the chirping of wild birds could be heard under the canopy of the surrounding forest. A few brave cicadas also joined in the wild musical band. And near my polished shoes leaches reared their red bodies into an inverted u -in vain - to have a go at me. Perched precariously on the edge of the cliff was a thatched farm hut, and in the forefront of it's narrow veranda was a small patch of baby corn plants ; a big cow was gazing at me with questioning looks. To the north between streams of slow moving clouds a few ice capped peaks were visible. Here the narrow canyon also acted as channel for the wind from the south to move intensely up to the north direction. And, the colourful prayer flags fluttered so strongly, that the bamboo pole trembled in anticipation of braking in two. photo After handing over the north Sikkim entry permit to a group of ever friendly police persons our vehicles crawled across a narrow rust colored bridge to west flank of Tista. Photo Up we climbed, managing sharp bends, until we reached almost the top of the ridge. Here, a camp of the ITBP was located, and a few km away stood the BRO camp. ITBP looks after the security aspect of the area and BRO helps to keep the roads workable through out the year. Thanks to such dare devils who toil in such inhospitable conditions so that we can travel in comfort. Just after 7 hrs of the trip, our vehicle started to once more climb down to negotiate a concrete bride over the much narrow Tista and entered Chungthang. Chungthang today is a small trading post catering to villages dotted within a few km or so of it. It also has permanent army camp on the eastern edge, a tribal school very centrally located, a few government offices at the entrance to the town, a telephone exchange marked by a high red and white colored steel mask looks down over the town, a rural health centre , with red corrugated tin roof is tucked to the south east ,facing the local school, and a few assorted shops flak the only main street of this place , a few temples, a monastery at a vintage point on the hill slope , and the Guru Nanak Lama Gurudawara , our destination are the other land marks of this place.. 4.00pm. Guru Nanak Lama Gurudawara is situated on a slope of a steep mountain. A high concrete gate with the name inscribed in black letters mark the entry point. The entrance is from the south side via a narrow lane with shoulder high white washed walls marking the Gurudawara complex, but the path is wide enough for a medium size vehicle to pass through it to the parking place. (photo) Walking along the path our view is firstly attracted by an another narrow black coloured iron gate with a rusted lock hanging by a chain. Located just behind this gate is a huge black rock, 20 feet high and 30 feet wide with a few yellow marking. Photo. According to one of the indigenous legend, Guru Rimpoche, (Guru Nanak) was addressed in the local language came to this place. As Guru Nanak preached and mingled with the inhabitants, who loved to hear his sermons, a wicked magician out of shear frustration and jealousy pushed a huge boulder to harm the congregation. But, Baba Nanak with his divine power was able to stall and deflect the boulder with his foot and prevented any harm to the assembled villagers. An imprint of the foot is visible on the rock surface. Photo Fluttering on all the sides are the Buddhist prayer flags inscribed with “OM MANE PADME HUM” – Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus. On the summit stands the Nishan Sahib, the Sikh flag. The western side is flanked by a Buddhist Gumpa (temple), towards the south is an opening about 30 cm high and 1 mt. wide. From within this hollow believers scoop water to carry home, as the water in this crevasse never dries out, and is also considered to posses Devine powers. (photo) Here two religious beliefs inter mingle and infuse to form a home of love for Sikhs and Buddhists worshipers alike. Another baffling feature of this place is a paddy field just to the right of this rock. As per the information gathered by me, Guru Nanak while traveling up from the planes carried a few rice grains (staple diet of the plane folks), wrapped in a banana leaf , and on the request of the local villagers he sprinkled these grains on this particular plot and blessed the area. The plot bursts forth with paddy stocks in the season!! Although at this altitude (6500 ft) and this climate is unfavorable for such growth. (photo) A few steps ahead, and to our left stands the Gurudawara structure; a light formation with corrugated tin roof. The top is painted light green; it mingles well with local hills and dales. In the year 1977, the then army contingent, the 17 Assam Rifles discovered this place. Before that a number of local persons and the pradhan (headman) of the village took care of the place. In the same year on 17th.May; the first “prakash utsab” was held, and the Guru Granth Sahib was installed at this place. Since then the pradhan and different army units had been looking after the welfare of this place. In the year 2004, the Assam Rifles moved out. And, on the army’s request Siliguri Gurudawara Committee in conjunction with the pradhan was to form a committee to oversea the day to day running of this place. Two sevadars, appointed from (mid November 2004) Siliguri are carrying out the religious functions. But, the committee is yet to be formed. Presently, (March 2006) 6 Sikh army unit is stationed at Chungthang. Moreover to the left of the Gurudawara, stands a tree, with twisted branches in the shape of walking sticks. As per the information available, Baba Nanak planted his walking stick at this place, and the stick has grown into a full fledged tree. Photo. And, within the darwarsahib a letter of appreciation (on a silk thangka) from His Holiness Dalai Lama is displaced; wherein his holiness has thanked the army for carrying out good work. -photo Recently I met a local friend born and brought up in this area, and this is what he has to say about this place…. “Two holy personalities met at this place; Guru Baba Nanak, and Lhatsun Chenpo. Lhatsun Chenpo’s arrival had been prophesized by Guru Rimpoche of Tibet in the 8th. Century. But the local, Lepcha ruler would not permit Lhatsun Chenpo’s entry from Tibet into Sikkim. So, Lhatsun Chenpo had to prove his credentials by performing some miracles. Hence, the Tibetan sear walked up to a plant, the leaves of these plants are used by the farmers to make seasonal umbrella. And, by his mystical powers Lhatsun floated to the top of the leaf and sat on the fragile leaf! Guru Nanak walked to the top of the rock, and his footsteps got imprinted on the rock! The footprints are visible to this day! Both the sears proved their powers. And part took in a common meal of rice; the left over of the rise grains were scattered by both the saints. Hence, the plot just opposite the Gurudawara is the only place at that altitude that blooms to a paddy field in the summer season! Finally, Lhatsun Chenpo walked down from Tibet with two companions, and so did Baba Nanak walk into Sikkim with two companions!! Coincident or hazy mingling of legends and facts I removed my shoes, washed my hands and lightly placed my feet on to the special rock. ; A shiver run through my body, as I am connected to the past, - the mystery of this place.

Note: River Lachunchu, the ending Chu means river, it is pronounced like the Punjabi ward cho, or small seasonal river. Chungthang, Thang means flat level place, more like ‘than’ or ‘jaga’ in Punjabi. Some people call it ‘changhe than’ a good place.

My thanks to Jaspal Kaur Lotay, England, for guidance; and Sikkim school friends for providing the Sikkim lores. Written by Jagjit Singh Chipra, B-1 , Hemkunt Apartments,Siliguri. West Bengal India . Telephone 0353 2642383 April 2006

References

  • This itinerary is found recorded in Janam Sakhee Bhai Bala;
  • Janam Sakhee Walait Wali;
  • Janam Sakhee Meharban;
  • Janam Sakhee B-40;
  • Suchak Parsang by Bhai Behlo;
  • Mahima Parkash by Baba Sarup Chand;
  • Parchian Sewa Das;
  • Nanak Prakash by Bhai Santokh Singh; Nanak Parkash,
  • Twarikh Guru Khalsa and Gurdham Prakash by Gyani Gian Singh;
  • Guru Khalsa Twareekh by Giani Lal Singh (Sangrur);
  • Jeevan Charit Guru Nanak Dev ji by Dr. Trilochan Singh;
  • Travels of Guru Nanak by Dr. Surinder Singh (Kohli);
  • Atlas of Travels of Guru Nanak by Dr Fauja Singh and Kirpal Singh;
  • Guru Nanak's Travels to Himalayan and East Asian Region by Dr. Dalvinder Singh (Grewal) (the author), and a host of other researchers.
  • Though Janamsakhis and other contemporary material are vague about the names of the places, yet they are specific about Al-Lachen Bhutan Des which are specially mentioned in these Janamsakhis.