SIKKIM, also known as MAYEL LYANG, the Hidden Land or more appropriately, MAYEL MALUK LYANG, in Tibetan, meaning , “The land in which the hidden treasures will rise” in its true sense, being closest to Mt. Kanchenjunga is believed to be the most blessed land to live in.
It was the month of July 15’, the peak monsoon season in this eastern Himalayan range, that the early sun washes the snow clad peaks with divinity and the clouds are stuck to their mischievous and playful routine ornamenting the range. The monsoon season has its own charm in these mountain valleys where the clouds leave their designated positions in the sky and travel low across the terrain dramatically and charmingly.
It is indeed a privilege to live in the heart of the capital city Gangtok, and still be so close to the Himalayan deities resting in the gravity defying heights of Mt. Kanchenjunga and its co- ranges.
The pictures taken are on account of documenting Mt. Kanchenjunga from 26th July 15’ to 1st August 15’ ,early mornings, from the window of my apartment room at Namnang road overlooking the Gangtok valley.
Each day these gravity defying clouds had their way all around the open sky, fidgeting with the peaks, the ranges, the landscape, rubbing through the staircases, streets and the building which stood up in the valley, basically everything that couldn’t move, couldn’t play along with the light movements of these candy floss.
Some mornings they would bully and chock the crevasses and blurred the vision to the other part of this land. The heavy moisture laded grey clouds sit along the ridges as hens on their eggs with the weight settling down pulled by gravity.
Some days they created a pedestal, a stage like the lotus seat for the ranges to stand tall and stretch, simultaneously being washed by the early sun rays, leaving the peaks glittering and afresh like how a city shines after a night of thunder pouring and the next day sun drying it up, smiling, dissipating energy.
The next day, these clouds would have a new play to perform. Floating across light and translucent tickling these high mountains and kissing their noses, the purest one would go and settle at the crown of the Mt Kanchenjunga like a tiara or like a halo, paying its respect, love and affection.
And some days the sun gets the lead role as the clouds get busy and wouldn’t have time to goof around and play their play. During these clean blue sky days the valley experiences the sun shining down with full luster and power. The sun sterilizes the stone paved streets, the sloping roofs and the walls of the houses evaporating the dew from the glass window panes.
Through all these changing templates of the other elements of nature making up this earth, Mt Kanchenjunga stood straight and tall, loved, bullied, beautified by these role chanigng clouds and the circumambulating sun.
It stood high with integrity and eternal purity, didn’t care less about the changing attributes and delivery of the surroundings. Rooted in the ground with its head up above higher than anything else, looking down at the cities, valleys, towns, streets, the insignificantly tiny humans and other living organisms stating the impermanence in life.
The message sent is so strong as if sent from heaven, “Every day, every minute comprising of seconds and milliseconds is changing and bringing in new prospects, situations, and circumstances which in turn are not permanent would create events of happiness, sadness, anger, disbelief or love. These expressions are merely temporary phases, making one wiser, smarter and quicker as experienced. Adhering to anyone of these would be a disaster as they won’t remain the same in this ever changing cosmos. The soul remains constant without attachment.”
“Don’t listen to anyone, decide by yourself and practice madness. Develop courage for the benefit of all sentient beings. Then you will automatically be free from the knot of attachment. Then you will continually have the confidence of fearlessness and you can then try to open the Great door of the Hidden Place.” ~~TULSHUK LINGPA, TIBETAN TERTON
Centuries ago, the collision of two primitive sub-continents gave birth to this supreme Pantheon..
Higher than ever, plan a road trip to experience the constantly changing & mesmerizing landscapes, the breathtaking sky and the pristine Himalayan dunes.. #Ladakh www.allindiapermitblog.wordpress.com
It rained and silenced the entire neighborhood, later that evening…
The barking dogs eased on their rattling nerves and fell silent. The Bengali lodge opposite to my house was playing Bengali music in order to entertain their Bengali tourists in Sikkim, were muted by the downpour roar. The hustle bustle of the taxis withdrawing from their days wandering on the highways to homes or bars to drain down their exhaustion suddenly stopped moving on Kazi road.
All, we heard was a thunderous downpour after two days of sunshine… the sound of water hitting and reverberating in the slopey valley of Gangtok. A symphony of heavy water droplets hitting the ‘Tina’ roofs, splashing on the wavering leaves and branches, on the tarred road and the muddy tracks, slashing on the hoardings and the transformer lasted for as long as half an hour, muted the noise of the city makers. As everything rested from their energies hearing the melancholy, the rain too slowed its pace to a blissful shower. It started to drizzle and the left the neighborhood cool and peaceful..
I woke up next morning for my routine class at the studio, walked down the slope to M.G. marg and found the streets in solitude. All beings had rescued themselves in shelter it seemed… The green and the leaves still danced in yesterday’s hypnosis spreading their fragrance even stronger than usual. The roofs were washed as new still reeking of the rain water. The green carpeted walls shimmered of moss and looked even heavier. The buildings were washed to their original color. And all the smells were lost to this thick moistures environment. The clouds left their designated place up in the sky and were running over the roads, brushing through the buildings and caressing the trees.
The city looked like a young girl who cried all night missing her lover and woke up in the morning having washed away her blues.
Been walking on the streets with headphones ducked in or sometimes not, since have been living alone in Gangtok. I get some company sometimes if i bump into a friend or someone from my fitness studio or someone from my Architecture studio. Generally i take these solitary walks after dinners or whenever, they have never been planned. I love these walks. Actually I like walking. Clears my mind and i get some space to think. Think about things back at work, about my new travel start-up, about my relationships, about home and friends and many a times just blank as a paper staring at things and phenomena around.
Walking at M.G. Marg is enjoyable every time. I find myself perfectly lonely walking amongst a crowd. I experience insignificance and freedom. It’s quite a strange quality among living organisms where they can choose to absorb or not the surrounding energy. Sometimes i do choose to mingle around.
A few of my walks have been pretty interesting. After a long days work i prefer to walk a while and then resume my trail home. I prefer not to think of anything and keep my mind blank. It automatically happens so too.
So when you are walking on a free street, you have passersby as well… Many of them i assume are like me, or i try and understand who could be doing the same activity as mine, walking aimlessly, that is. There have been a few moments when my gaze gets stuck to some face passing by for a minute time of 3-5 secs. I trace the face and the body, and play a game of guessing what that package is all about.
A young mom, with a calm, happy kid walked pass me. The women did look at me. Our eyes met. No smile was exchanged though. She was dressed elegantly. A black silk salwar & suit, black off-setting, wrapped in the same cloth, shiny black earrings with a pink chiffon dupatta. She had a bob cut which made all the difference. Cream skin with a pink lipstick and a streak of kajal, made her look perfect and satisfied with her life. Not essentially given in the systematic life as many young girls do whilst searching for their dream love. The lady was strongly rooted in her belief and was living up to it. Reflections after the meeting say that the above could be absolutely opposite to reality..
A middle aged woman, wearing a grey Baku & a Bihari young girl walking on her left hand side a step behind in the same cadence gave a bright smile as soon as our eyes met. That smile brightened me up, lit up my eyes and returned a broad smile, cherishing this un- planned meet for whatever few seconds. When i cross people like these, the text i have been reading about the history of Sikkim and its dwellers seems to be truer than ever. I walked smiling for a while reflecting on how many times have i been able to share a vibe like that with an unknown person..
A girl, my age may be, i see her everyday walking to and fro from may be her workplace at the same time as mine, which made a reason for my assumption. She wears a Baku (different colours) sometime; sometimes it would be pretty western like a pair of jeans and shirt with a jacket etc. She looks pretty tidy every time. We have exchanged glances, starred at each other for a couple of seconds sometimes but never ever smiled. When i passed by her the 3rd / 4th time i did try to exchange some gesture of acknowledgment, but i guess that wasn’t really taken well. We still see each other every day and never care to appreciate. I wonder sometimes, if i would have met her in some other way, say at a friend’s place or party we might have clicked and would have gone for a coffee now and then..
Some have been to the contrary sharing a un explainable relation by a span of a year. We have been exchanging smiles every time we cross. Also have exchanging gestures of how being and good will. Wishing on festivals if we see each other. It get even more exciting when i meet these people surprisingly at my class as a new registration, or a friends place or at a bar or any other place stationary and not aiming to reach any unknown destination.
An elderly man, a lachenpa, (lepcha tribe, big and muscular, rare anthropometric proportions with respect to the bhutias and nepalis) as i figured, looked fierce and had a strong glow of history. Did not bare a smile, but his eyes did. Did not have any connection with him at the first time. Have been several times now that i have seen him walking alongside or apposite to me, but he always passes by as someone who has alot more to think about than wandering aimlessly and playing a stalkers game.. it struck me that I do sound like a wandering stalker but i find this game damn interesting when you have nothing to do besides walk with freedom.
Every morning i used to walk about 3/4ths of a kilometre to get to my fitness studio from my previous apartment. On my way happens to be several shops, a newspaper go down, a taxi stand and a garbage collecting truck at that particular time. The taxi drivers chit chat with hot tea served by mobile tea vendors (the old lady has the best concoction of tea, milk, water and ginger), waiting for passengers for Silliguri, Tadong and Deorali. Meantime when i walk early morning crossing the stand i get a vibe of confusion between these guys wondering where am i from? what am i doing here? where do i go in early in the morning like the locals..? so one driver of them used to greet me every morning, a pleasant greet. Could sense no mocking, shear welcomness to his state.. it took me a while to get comfortable with a random taxi guy greeting me considering the mainland up bringing i had. This place did have its magic on me..
I experience these different encounters each day… i/ everyone meets so many people that way for whatever time it has been decided we were supposed to. We all intersect in someone else’s rhythm somewhere, drawing parallels. We wish for association whether in a foreign land or our own. My mind boggles thinking how many people do we really know in this vast wide enormous world besides the Facebook friends count we have…!
A traveler is anyone who mentally or physically, is not stationary in one place. He/ she keeps on changing his or her place of stay every now and then. The relocation generally depends on either work or leisure or for some people both.
Travelers meet travelers..
It’s quite funny how we meet numerous people during our process of traveling. We started our journey when we entered this world. The phase of interaction started when we enrolled in a school attached to a system. Thoughts were ignited and we perceived things our way. Learnt how to read and write, express ourselves and communicate. Our major education was to train us how to become big in life in terms of wealth and power. The teachings adhered to a system and conveyed how to survive in this man made system.
Then we carried on with our travel with our friends and family as travel companions. Exchanging thoughts and learning from hands on experiences. We learn about our roots and its immortality. We get attached to our belongings and near and dear ones since we stay stationary in this environment for long. During this stage the major development as a person happens. We seek our own identities and make choices. Constantly growing and becoming bigger.
Come to think of it, why are farm lands converted into factories.. why are towns called towns? Why cities are called cities? Why do we talk about countries? At some point of time we did for a cultural bondage. A place of belongingness.. a place to attach to our roots..that place renders a ground to come back to. A security to return to. Security engages us in accumulating stuff. We are forgetting the notion of sharing and its role. The mountains and skies share the same space and zone. They share it. They make this earth happen together. The rain, the sunshine, the famines and droughts is their energy simulation
Universe is a parameter of gauging the expanse of a tangible system to the insignificantly tiny humans, a human mind has the power to experience the universe in an even tiny brain..
All humans have entered into their Wheel of life solitary, gifted with a pure, balanced energy and sent to an unknown system. The energy generated by its own circumambulation keeps our nucleus aligned. An aligned nucleus has the power to preside over our thoughts and deeds. A harmony is generated by this synchronization when the mind remains blank, with no passing good or bad thought. A serene calmness overtakes the human’s silhouette.
Our orbits bounce like a plum ball, roll like a ball in a court, spins like a ballet dancer, swivels like a roti flung in the air before it hits the concaved pan, dissipating and attracting, infinite spirals of energy from their surrounding orbits. The spirals like waves entwine with surrounding energy spirals.. Their orbits overlap and entangle high on sharing energy. When two spirals meet, an explosion occurs and converts any tangible form or matter into air and relapses, detaching itself from the other orbit craving for some fuel. Like basic algebra the positive and negative energies create a stimulating product where its properties change from the generic..
Travelers meet; their paths cross with many other likely travelers. Memories are made, vibes shared, experiences fill the common path. Every junction has an entry and an exit, only the displacement measured in the unit of time changes..
Like sermons, thoughts are treasured and embraced.
Mountains, seas, skies spread till the horizon bare smaller densities of orbits. Smaller number of orbits means smaller number of energy penetrations. It’s like birds fleeing from a cage, feeling the five pure elements of nature around their silhouettes. We are then in the pristine orbit of the universe, like a small insignificant point, smaller than a point made by a charcoal pencil when dropped straight vertically down. We are always searching for the reverberations that would support the energy of our orbit. We are always in search of energy simulation. Where energies collide and make one and then disperse as the natural law of impermanence.
This is just one part of being a traveler, being us.. as humans..
“ You are a traveler in this life, don’t make a castle wherever you are resting for a while..” Patrul Rinpoche
The fluttering leaves, in the breeze, taste a sense of freedom when held by the branch of a tree by its one end… By autumn it deserves the time of travel and detaches itself from the one who nurtured it, into the ever changing world. It floats in the air, directionless and aimless, brushing against the context. It travels far and wide losing its moisture in the surroundings. By winter these leaves are a mere skeleton rumbling with the cold and frozen wind which was once warm and friendly. The leaves loose their colour to this dry atmosphere and become brittle and lifeless. They surrender themselves and become a part of the earth from where they once originated. Their deliverance is for a bigger good, mixing in the soil, nurturing it to capacitate a new set of roots.
The winter is overtaken by summer.. The ice melts into water and runs through the leagues of the earth nourishing the depths of dead. Spring brings along with itself colours which were nowhere to be found in the rock hard winters.. And the cycle repeats, rendering beauty to this world we live in.
The fresh waters arising from high up the mountain ranges, rich with minerals and colour, finds its way down to human settlements and jungles, bringing along with itself many more life forms.. This formless natural element erodes its way through rocks and terrains, patiently carving their textures to a smooth surface, changing our landscape around constantly with an every blink of our eyes..
A deer, elegantly hopping around in its free jungle, chooses the sweet green leaves satisfying it’s taste buds, is generally unaware of the swift cheetah who has been watching it savor it’s last meal.. It runs for its life as fast as it can but admits to the law of nature. Not knowing what is there for your future is the game. Preparing for the future in the present would be like moaning for what was lost in the past.
Earthquakes, volcano eruptions, floods and famines have the power to change life on earth altogether.. from the immobile third realm beings to the top. Till the reality is felt, the damage has already been done.. Humans having the power to express, bury themselves in the sadness of destruction and loss. The loss of family, friends, loved ones, possessions, wealth, shelter and self esteem. Nature’s outburst brings mankind back to the start with zero resource and accumulation.
Nature has always left clues of its nature of impermanence. It has always been sermoning the requiredness of detachments. Always setting itself as an example, professing the rules that should be adhered to for a happily synchronized world.
Every day, every minute comprising of seconds and milliseconds is changing and bringing in new prospects, situations, and circumstances which in turn are not permanent would create events of happiness, sadness, anger, disbelief or love. These expressions are merely temporary phases, making one wiser, smarter and quicker as experienced. Adhering to anyone of these would be a disaster as they won’t remain the same in this ever changing cosmos. The soul remains constant but the body surrenders to nature without any attachment. We go back as we came.
Wealth and power, the two ‘real’ man-made drugs, bearing unnatural chemical properties have soaked in our nerves which connect our brain to the heart and the spinal cord. Sadly it has successfully replaced the air we breathe to keep our selves alive. Makes me think that we are dead already.. But wealth and power as much accumulated without offering to the needy has helped us in total detachment from our very own maker, the supreme power and its lessons..
A grave dug manually is tiring, and hence is made exactly as per that human’s anthropometry.. This last manmade resort too, has no place to house the materialistic accumulations.. Your powerful existence now just remains a name and a pot of ashes, eventually eroded by the waves mixed into the sand beds from where there is no coming back.
“Don’t listen to anyone, decide by yourself and practice madness. Develop courage for the benefit of all sentient beings. Then you will automatically be free from the knot of attachment. Then you will continually have the confidence of fearlessness and you can then try to open the Great door of the Hidden Place.”
After a hundred rebirths as living beings we get a chance to be born as a human. It is as tough as finding a stainless steel needle in a stack of hay..
Buddha says that the Dharma can only be achieved/ followed / perceived if the Karmas in your past lives accumulated with interests to provide one a rebirth as human, bearing the qualities and capabilities to hear, speak, touch, talk, express, walk and breathe.
All beings start their journey in the lower three realms as animals or immobile trees and plants devoid of the above capabilities. After every death, our deeds, good or evil are measured and the rebirth is decided.
Dear reader, we finally made it to the human realm.
Once a human, we all enter into the Wheel of Dharma with empty hands and an empty mind. We entered this world sacredly naked, bearing no belongings, food, clothing, possessions and money. Our minds are unfed and unaware of the system surrounding us, unaware of the idea of a family, unaware of emotions of love, hatred, anger, lust and desire and its following worldly attachments.
Imagine this state of mind, with no attachments in your present context, this very minute whilst reading my understanding… It’s difficult and quite loony to think of it because we have already accumulated enough in our hands and mind.
Man in his present life is extremely busy, running behind the above mentioned materials. The notion to possess more than others has hypnotized our actions and deeds. We are living to accumulate more wealth and power, to fulfill expectations and vice versa. We are living to be better than the best, climbing up higher on the social ladder, trying to satisfy our ego. We look down at the weak and poor, gauging our progress and fulfillment. Unawareness of reality sets in and The Wheel remains stationary making no travel to the liberating destination. We are getting stuck and immobile in terms of spiritual growth and development. There is no progress towards the bigger truths of our existence.
Humans, the powerful element in this universe has surrendered to this man made, truth less virtue. Mankind has surrendered to the system.. Healing this scar will take several ever peace less rebirths until the air we breathe will be replaced with solid earth.
Centuries ago, the collision of 2 primitive sub-continents gave birth to the supreme Pantheon, The Himalayas..! The evolution of these peaks has created our very own and still not discovered geography of the world. Bestowing on India and its neighboring countries, the diverse and pristine topography, seasons and climates, culture and lifestyle. And today to be in India and walk over its Himalayan range is in the hit list of every travel enthusiast..
Hence, rich India, in-turn had its own share of troubles in standing by itself, being looked down upon by treacherous opportunists.. Being a living kaleidoscope of events and phenomena, India, provided a realization and significance of identity, self worth and freedom to every individual..
At the ranges of the North Eastern Sangalila Himalayas lies the ridge of Sandakphu, a strong line between the Nepal and Indian borders.. In the past hundred years a lot of Nepali citizens, from which many thousands were Tibetans, the Buddhism carriers walked over this land and entered India. Years past and decisions left unattended or rather attended out of rage, the desire of political identity brewed and fermented, and became toxic..
Unknown about these political chaos, fighting rights, identity crisis, and the drilling unrest, these de-attached Gorkhas, also known as the ‘Nedrog’ (companions for pilgrimage, those karmically linked to spiritual level) the now Indian Nepalis and Nepal citizens still live in unison, sharing the land arbitrary of borders, with peace and freedom, inviting and guiding people from all over this world to experience love, belief, faith in mother nature.. Guided by Mt Goddess Kahanchendzonga (and its family) and Mt Goddess Miyolangsangma, the deity personifying Mt Chomolungma (now known as the Sagarmata, Mt Everest) in return of their immortal faith and respect for nature, this Nepali speaking tribe consists mainly of Sherpas, Gurungs and Limboos, are the inhabitants of the Sangalila Himalayan range.
The Sangalila National Park and all the surrounding villages provide a breathtaking view of Mt. Kahanchendzonga, Mt Pandim, Mt Kumbhakarna, Mt Everest, Mt Makalu and Mt Lhotse, which makes Sandakphu, the highest point in West Bengal, India, (3600mt) a place for worship where nature is religion, meadows and forests as the temple.
A couple of hours drive from Darjeeling is the village of Manebhanjang (2096mts), separated by a ‘Jhora’ (a water stream) from Nepal. Manebhanjang, now over the developing tourism bears a good infrastructure consisting of lodges and hotels, a school and basic services. It is the starting point for the Sandakphu & Phalut trek (also can be driven by the 1950’s make Land Rover). Another starting point, Dothrey, perched between the pine trees, pristine and seldom visited, is a few hours from Manebhanjang.
One can see the eclectic environment of trekkers and tourists who warm up for their 15 km walk to ‘Tonglu’ / ‘Tumling’ (3036mts), the first stop enroute to Sandakphu. Set high on the meadows of the region, Tonglu provides the first sights of the Sleeping Budhdha and in many Hindu worshippers as the Sleeping Shiva.
The Sleeping Budhdha is this perfectly coordinated collision to form, Mt Khumbhkarna (the side profile of the face), the massive Mt Kanchanjunga and its family (forming the body), and Mt Pandim (the feet of the lords). The clouds precipitated from a tranquil state of this meditative posture are figurative of blessings.
On route this trail, I could see the sprawled, once called in the perfect sense, The Crown of Himalayas, Darjeeling, and oriented myself back on the map.
Tonglu, at the new years week eve was freezing with dropping temperatures of -5*(inside the tent). Getting out of the sleeping bags and then from the tents, cladding ourselves with down jackets, gloves, mufflers, ear muffs and what not became a gif as the sun rays warmed up the snoring Sleeping Budhdha. I felt the curious anticipation of getting closer, over the layers of Himalayas.
After an appetizing view of the mountain gods we head up for Kalapokhari (3186mt), the Black Lake balancing itself on the steep ridge between India and Nepal. Quite a grueling 18km stretch, twirling between the rhododendron jungles and the pacemaking meadows, took the wanderers through the changing aromas enriched with oxygen and purity.
One reason why I am drawn to the mountains again and again, is to experience this purity.. The purity of the five elements namely air, sky, earth, water and fire in their unobstructed forms. Walking with the bare essentials required to sustain the temperatures during the days and nights, and the absence of the material distractions, I get opened up to the spiritual thought.
The place is magical. High above is the bright milky way, infused, the dark sky a stroke of misty white. Below, the clouds settled under the eye level when the sun signed off and remained asleep till the next morning. Before the sun set, the clouds descending trapped the sun rays, reflected yellow, filling the valley with warmth, bought more time to play around.
Kalapokhari, lies right below the Sandakphu ridge, though being a part of Nepal. You can use both N.C. (Nepal currency) or I.C. (Indian currency). Deserted as this place may look, is blessed with the holy black lake covered with prayer flags tagged across, facing the valley towards India, sending blessings and good luck.
‘Boundaries are arbitrary, made out of insecurities and greed.. The notion to have/ posses the most than others.’
The Nepalese families respect the trekkers/ wanderers/ pilgrims for their effort. They in turn to keep you warm and content serve loads of Chang, (local millet beer) rich in nutrients and Gundruk soup (green leafy vegetable boiled with herbs). Tourism though has given a twist to their natural habitat. Found an R.C.C. structure erecting amidst the Ikra (wooden frames, bamboo layered) houses whose speed of construction had shown quite a progress when I last visited the place in oct 15’ from this time in dec15’.
With a good carbohydrate upload of pancakes, peanut butter and a deep breath, we got ourselves ready for the gravity defying trail to Sandakphu. In and out of the landscapes of pine trees, and as old as banyan tree sized rhododendron shrubs we caught insane and highly dramatic views of Kahanchendzonga admired by its surrounding peaks. The snow clad face of Mt Pandim, looking onto Sikkim provides the perfect explanation for its geometrical balance and symmetry.
“ To see the greatness of a mountain one must keep one’s distance, to understand its form, one must move around it, to experience its moods, one must see it at sunrise and sunset, at noon and at mid night, in sun and in rain, in snow and in storm, in summer and in winter and in all the other seasons. He who can see the mountains like this, comes near to the life of the mountains, a life that is as intense and varied as that of a human being.” ~ LAMA ANAGARIKA GOVINDA
Welcomed at the tip of the Sandakphu ridge, with open arms, the massiveness of Kanchanjunga is un defeatable. The tip of this peak, the torso of the sleeping Budhdha lies exactly in the centre of the brow of Mt Kumbhakarna and the toes of Mt Pandim. Magically symmetrical, the laws of nature and its architect displayed the simple organization of triangles in to something truly magnificent. Mused, scaled, chamfered, mirrored, tilted, angled, the lines of the triangles create this eye tonic.
On the left resides the Mt Chomolungma (Everest) family. Starting from Mt Machchikipuchre (fish tail), ending at the group of peaks, Mt Lohtse, Mt Everest, Mt Makalu and Mt Chamlu. This tallest mountain lying in Nepal is also called the Sagarmata by the Nepalese, the goddess who gives birth to rivers and streams fertilizing the vast valleys of Nepal.
Phalut (3601mts) is a 21km walk from Sandakphu. The walking trails consists of the Himalayan dunes, the never ending meadows. A pristine set up at the borders of Nepal, Sikkim and India gets a wanderer in the lap of the Himalayan deities, the closest I have been to Mt Kanchanjunga after the grueling Goechala trek. From here one can study the crevasses and the snowy slopes, the long cold shadows of these hurdles falling on the snow, the slopes exposed to the sun shine like a diamond, reflecting light and warmth into the valleys. The best for the last I felt.
The walk till Phalut was a self reflective one. In the sense, anyone who intentionally travels to the mountains is on a pilgrimage to these deities and the five elements. But theoretically we shouldn’t need to go to the mountains to visualize them and make offerings to them. We should be attempting to carry the spiritual experiences with us everywhere. But we intend to return to the mountains to feed that liberating experience, because we depend on the external landscapes and events to aid our understanding. And when we stop attaching labels to what we see, a sense of quietness flows into the gap bringing us a step closer to the understanding of emptiness..
The day to return to base came and we meandered through the jungles of the Sangalila range. Refreshing and rejuvenated we landed at the village of Gorkhey and Sepi via Tshrikhola to take a taxi back to Darjeeling. Hungovered from the past weeks surrendered action of walking, we got back to civilization..
“The feet of a wanderer are like the flowers, his soul is growing and reaping the fruits; and all his sins are destroyed by his fatigues in wandering..!
The fortune of him who is sitting sits, it rises when he rises, it sleeps when he sleeps, and it moves when he moves..Therefore wander!!
There is no happiness for one who does not travel! Living in the society of men, the biggest man becomes a sinner..Therefore wander!! “
Forget the heights, the altitude, and the thin air vacuuming your lungs, cold freezing wind chilling your spine while you move step by step aggregating your energy, finding your centre.
A pair of bare feet can reach places, distances, altitudes, landscapes, speeds, temperaments, feelings, experiences, beliefs, lifestyles, alignment, just because they are meant to do so. The mind is tamed to be the supreme power always in this politics of mind, body and soul. Whilst wandering, mind sipping margarita, gets to relax, watching the body work through its peaceful alignment. Walking/ wandering through a distance, mind, finally leaves its prejudices of being the boss, goes vacant and blank. It goes wild, understanding its existence around significant landscape, overpowering earth, wild flora yielding the air to breathe, feels insignificant, and transcends in the mesmerizing and pristine context. That’s when the mind in control cleanses through the process of wandering/ travelling/ finding.
Impurities are a by-product of a masterpiece in this industrial world. We are a product of the renaissance understanding of living..Questioning the phenomena in search of reality, the system, the believes, in the process creating one’s own… A stationary body and mind being a spectator bears the impurities of this material development, settling for complacency in terms of development in both spiritual and physical health.
Cleansing of the impurities becomes the process of self healing thence. A movement triggers the breathe, hitting the heart beating the fuel into our muscles and creating movement in synchronization with the mind in its state of delivering. That’s when the alignment of the heart, body and mind happens. The mind is overpowered by the functioning of heart grueling with the body, catching up with the pulse of the existence of the context, body and its association with the heart dealing with appreciation of its presence into the wild. The mind cleanses, without given an option to deal with the adulterated metaphor of living.
Human body has been signified as the most adaptable living organism in this entire universe. And thanks to Charles Darwin to make it prominent through science. Making things simple enough to count on, one just needs the brain to be working well in synchronization with what one wants to do. Capability terms as talent sometimes,isn’t about the ability just, it’s about how your mind, breath and soul do a threesome to create something beautiful considering how you make that orgasm happen.
This pass is not just a destination to be conquered to satisfy the adventure thrill, but bears a unique history which Sikkim believes in whole heartedly. Besides being a pass for the Tibetan Nepalese to enter India during the primitive times, Goecha-La is said to be the gateway leading to the spiritually incarnated Hidden Cavesof Mt. Kanchenjunga, where if one enters has no coming back, as the life inside the Hidden Caves is heaven, fulfilled with happiness and desired wishes, given one has to leave all attachments to start the journey for this new life.
The ancient and the still existing ‘Lepcha’ tribe, who claimed to be made from the pure snowflakes fromMt. Kanchenjunga also called themselves as ‘Mutunchi Rongkup’ or the mother’s beloved children and ‘Rongpa’ (ravine dwellers) define this as their ravine territory and the kingdom of peace.
Countless trekkers from all around the world have this destination as one in their bucket list. Many have reached atop, meditated and prayed to the deities for their well being and thanking for all the happiness sent across.
The trek trail is the ever changing and enchanting landscape, a preserved ecosystem from 1780mt to 5500mt, a living museum of changing terrains, flora and fauna, colours, smells, people , temperatures, winds and last but not the least the human insights.
The starting point for Goecha-La is from Yuksum (1750mts), the last village before the wooded slopes rise to the snow and glaciers of Mt. Kanchenjunga, is rightly called the ‘Trekker’s Den’. The dirt roads of this village are like interwoven urban fabric, where it functions as a road literally at one time, a plaza the other, a shopping arena, a sit out, a walkout, children’s play area – a kaleidoscope of activities.
Usually there would be trekkers sitting, some tripping on ‘HIT’ beer from the local brewery soaking in the satisfaction after a trek back, looking at their numb feet… and some chilling, listening to tales and looking up the mountain maps.
Passing through the last lying mountain villages and countryside, during this 17km hike, one enters the lush green forests of the Kanchenjunga National Park, where the colour of the trees and flowers become brighter, water becomes neon and the air lighter.If one is lucky enough, can get a hearty watch of the Red Pandas in their natural habitat at this altitude, the state animal of Sikkim.
Crossing the last bridge from the mystic four, an indication of the uphill to Tshoka(3050mts), nature treats you by-passing Bakhim (2700mts) by a perfect tonic to the eyes and the lungs. Monochromatic layers of mountains and the dotted villages left behind, a scale of distance with a unit of time.
Tshoka, a silent pristine village, welcomes everyone with its wooden dens perched with the landscape, as a resting point for the trekkers.A look at the surrounding Sangalila and Kasturi ranges made me plan my next trek. There are loads of hikes and trails around the Tshoka forests where one could zone in the tiny forests details, dry leaves surrendered to the ground, moss covering the entire jungle like a carpet, water fissures frozen in time echoed with Himalayan Monal(national bird of Nepal) and the Red Pheasant chirping in their daily routines.Early in the morning Mt. Pandim shines in full flare charging up the viewers for the journey ahead.
Atop Tshoka, a steep ascending wooden pathway laced with rich alpine flora and rhododendron shrubs culminating to the snowy slopes of Kanchenjunga National Park will rest at Dzongri (4320mt) via Phedang (4000mt). It takes almost 7 hours for an average trekker to cross these 8kms for this unforgettable panorama of jagged snow peaks surrounding, cutting across in an arc 270* through the azure sky.The landscape is incidental..It is the trekkers that change.
It is a delicacy as the trekkers have it, to wake up as early in the morning to the beauty of mountain peaks by climbing toDzongri top (4500mt) from where one can get a panoramic view of Kabru (7353m), Ratong (6678m), Kanchenjunga (8534m), Koktang (6147m), Pandim (6691m), Narsingh(5825m) all blissfully bathing in the pure sunrays turning from pink to crimson to yellow to white on one side.. andthe shear clouds resting like a lake in between the mountains, revealing the insignificant glittering lights of Darjeeling and Yuksum on the other .
Dear trekker, get ready for the 14km descend into the magical gateway valley of Kanchenjunga after this charged up Himalayan drama. Thangsing(4300mt), a meadow, is the entrance to the valley, flanked by mountain ranges on the either side where the cattle graze and a stream directly from the pure melting snows passes by. Due to this change in topography and altitude one would see a change in the flora, landscape and the smells surrounding the entire valley.
A straight 6-7km, cake walk from Thangsing, to Lamune (4500mt) is meditative, the surroundings filled with high mountain deities and devils looking down at the new visitors. The trekker’s footsteps are magnetically pulled by the Kanchenjunga peak right at the center of the valley as a vantage point.
Lamune, an open air monastery, into the wild,a perfect place to camp, with a river flowing, Mt. Kanchenjunga with its theatrical presence, mounted like a God, silence absorbing the landscape and a few happy mountain goats merrying their way in the grasslands is the last halt for Goecha-La.
Way early in the morning the trekkers cladded in their fleeces push off for the final countdown for the Goecha-La (5500mt), brings one closest to the snowy southeast face of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain, also a base camp for those who aspire to scale the mountain via the glacial Samiti lake (4700mt). The ridge, atop of Samiti is a narrow path located on the side of the mountain. Some adrenaline rush and more altitude gain will lead to the perfect sunrise spot. Taking a breath, descending towards Zemathang, a bed of sand and snow, easy to traverse will make you curious for the altitude gain to Goecha-La for the next 1.5 hours.
Goecha-La view point an island surrounded by snow cladded ranges silences the mind and focuses the thoughts. Breathe in the blessed saturated chill air and zoom in the crisp details of the mountain crevasses and architecture. As insignificant you spot yourself, Mt Pandim(6691mts)on your right will affirm it. You would see the devotion impounding in the guide’s eyes whilst praying to Mt.Kanchenjuga for yet another successful trip.
Descending back through Lamune to the romantic location of Cocuchurung (4700mt), it is the time to celebrate with ‘thongbas’ and some ‘nepali hits’.
The route from Cocuchurung to Tshoka is a part of the Sangalila trek, by-passing the barren and high altitude terrains of Dzongri, we enter in to the pristine evergreen forests of rhododendrons and other ecosystems thriving with the back ground music of the falling waters.Passing through Phadeng, we retrace our steps to Tshoka with a warm welcome by the trekkers who would be retracing your footprints.
In full delight and glory and a detached mind, walk over the low altitude forests again. Breathing the smoked alleys of villages, realization of civilization after the arduous and sincere 9 days of walking into the wild, are one of the reflective moments.