They Sikkim Here, They Sikkim There

Sikkim pokes out of the North Eastern corner of India like a tumor. Wedged between Nepal, China and Bhutan in the Eastern Himalayas, the tiny mountainous state is only 100km long and 80km wide. The Kingdom of Sikkim was an independent nation until 1975 when it became the 22nd state of India. In its short history prior to this, the tiny slice of Himalayan pie was in the hands of the Lepchas tribe, followed by a monarchy of Tibetan decent.

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Pelling, not to be confused with Felling in Gateshead, was our first stop in Sikkim. The centre piece and main attraction in Felling is the job centre, Pelling boasts one of Sikkim’s oldest monasteries, the Pemayangtse Gompa. Here there were children as young as 6 or 7 living in the gompa preparing themselves for a life of divine dedication. When I was that age, I played with turtle figures and collected football stickers…

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Tibetan Script

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Prayer flags

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Lake Khecheodpalri, is surrounded by local myths and legends. It is said the land was once just a field until a conch shell fell from the sky and entered the ground, afterward the earth shook and erupted with water turning the crater into a huge lake. Buddhist religious scriptures recognise the lake as the abode of the chief protective Nymph of Dharma on earth. In other news, the Terminator has landed on Earth in his capsule, and is looking for Sarah Connor…

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Prayer wheels line the lake’s boardwalk

Whilst at the lake, we crashed at a home stay with an 85 year old lama named Pala. This guy gets up at 3am every day to practice yoga, tai chi and meditation. One thing he didn’t practice was how to tell the time, as our meals kept arriving 45 – 90 minutes earlier than he said they would, unless the mountain air had broken his watch. While at Pala’s place I was able to try a new type of food, yak meat. What does yak meat taste like? Think very, very chewy kebab.

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A 9km cross country trek through the ravine took me to the next town, Yuksom, and was obviously no problem for action man, the compadre got the bus. Yuksom literally means ‘meeting of the three great lamas’ and it was here that the trio of Tibetan monks met Phutsog Namgyal to crown him the first Chogyal of Sikkim, thus heralding the beginning of the Namgyal dynasty. The original throne can be seen at Norbugang park and the supposed foot print of one of the crowning lamas is embedded in the ground just in front, I would love to have been a fly on the wall in that situation as the clumsy monk stood in a pool of wet concrete during the coronation ceremony…

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The coronation throne

Yuksom is a good place to organise treks to Mount Khangchendzonga, the world’s third tallest peak, or just a nice one yak town and relax if you’ve had enough of walking, like me. As I was passing the time mastering suduko, I received a phone call from Vodaphone on my Indian number, it was a call centre in England trying to sell me new products. Those bloody British call centres!

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Khangchendzonga at dawn

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The remains of Tashi Tenka

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Categories: India | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “They Sikkim Here, They Sikkim There

  1. Mavis

    Thanks so much for your email, looking forward to seeing you images on my comp when your home. What an opportunity you have taken to have these experiences. Wide angle just makes the landscapes seem further away. Your images are good as they are, keep enjoying them and life. Proud of you boy but yes I am hard in the garden sorting for easier maintenance, David did deck extension Take care you Mavis

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