Sikkim Revisited/3

There is a theory that the more you trick your brain into doing something the more it will want to do it. But for procrastinators and daydreamers like us finding that willpower is the toughest part. Personally, my attention span is of a three years old, that too of a very spoilt one. It’s been more than four months I posted the last instalment of my Sikkim travelogue, which, by the way, had taken place during the end of September last year. And yet I did not get a chance or more precisely, the enthusiasm to finish it properly. I’m a procrastinator, I give you that. But definitely not a shameless one. I keep stalling my projects and enjoy the sweet, warm breath of stress on the back of my neck owing to sheer guilt and a tinge of self-loathing. However, I incorporated my mission to finish this travelogue in my new year’s resolution and before the first quarter of the year wraps itself up I am here to keep my promise. And also, travel bug has started biting on my ass again and I see no possibility of a trip in a month or so. So it’s time to delve into the fantasy world and escape the insufferable reality once again.

Pelling. It was my second time to this picturesque, serene town of West Sikkim. And the first thing on my list was Sanga Choeling Monastery. Last time we could not visit this place due to shortage of time and my moron co-travellers who wouldn’t give a single fuck about monasteries. This 17th century built monastery is perched on a hilltop which is a bit far from the main centre of the town and hiking is the only means to reach up there. It didn’t take much long really, barely an hour but the vertiginous trail coupled with its jagged bends made our journey quite exhausting. And not to mention the scorching sun that was airbrushing our exposed body parts with fire-strokes. Seriously, where had all the cold gone? After an hour of hiking, with occasional pause for photography and lots of huffing and puffing we reached the ‘Island of Guhyamantra teachings’ – the Sanga Choeling. Built by Lama Lhatsun Chempo in 1697 this monastery has gone through a lot over the years, including a few fire breakouts.

We all know that our Mother Nature is the greatest witch of all and by some unknown trick of Her the weather magically transformed as we entered the courtyard of the monastery. As if we had walked straight into another dimension where grey clouds came rushing at our rescue and covered the glaring eyes of the sun. The gods of Sikkim are merciful indeed. Morning scene at the monastery was a busy one. Monks were scattered everywhere attending to their chores. The entire place was under renovation. Workers were busy retouching the ancient frescoes on the monastery wall. Multicoloured prayer flags were beckoning mysteriously through the mist. Are they trying to deliver messages from the other side? From the long lost dear ones? Or from the enemies who have gone beyond and above it all? If you followed their trail you might end up in the kingdom of Dharmakaya where you will enjoy the state of endless bliss till the time infinity lasts. I don’t know yet how it feels like, but standing on the ancient stone plinth looking over into an endless abyss of mist, I felt a few fleeting moments of absolute harmony. Bruised mind and worn out body embraced each other like two long lost friends. Is this how Nirvana feels like? Only forever? Actually you never know. Anything can happen in the reign of great gods of the Himalayas. It’s the land of magic and mysticism. All you must do is leave that sceptical heart of yours at home. Believe in magic and magic will find you.

Later that day we visited Pemyangtse Monastery and Rabdentse Ruins – both the places I had been to before. As I said before it was a feeling of homecoming all over this time. And my luck favoured me yet again this time. Pemyangtse was devoid of any other tourist, just like last time. So I wandered, prayed, laughed, cried with the gods all by myself during the entire time.

It started raining cats and dogs when we left Pemyangtse and headed for Rabdentse, the second capital of the Namgyal dynasty of Sikkim. From the main gateway it is about a kilometre’s (?) walk till the ruins on the hilltop. It was our second hiking of the day and I was no short of energy. But rain was slowing us down. The moss covered trail was extremely slippery and our big umbrellas were often getting caught in the shrub.

I never knew I could fall in love with rain until I experienced it in Sikkim. The ancient palace was sprawled out like a lonely, abandoned lady way past her prime waiting for her visitors to come chant that encomium. She had so many stories to tell. She had seen a lot, suffered a lot. The kings had come and gone. The plunderers had entered and ravaged her sacred temple so many times. She had taken it all in and waited for the next chapter of her epic saga. If you put your ear on her broken walls you could still hear the sigh of the great Chogyal Chador Namgyal and his half-sister Pedi whose tragic story was that of betrayal, violence and in the end, murder. Or you can hear the battle cries of Bhutanese and Gurkha armies who invaded Rabdentse so many times that the capital was later shifted to Tumlong.

After reaching hotel I discovered a nice, fat leech had found a juicy spot where my sock and the hem of pants had left a little gap. Fresh blood began to ooze out of the gashing wound. The leech had gone out of the window few seconds back. The flowing streak of blood made me very happy. I had never been attacked by leech before.

To be continued