Lotus Bakery

This is a long due post, has only been delayed owing to some stupid distraction during past few months. This is actually a part of my West Sikkim travelogue. But I reckoned this place deserved to be mentioned in a separate post. I mentioned in my travelogue how my most venerable colleague had helped me to plan the entire West Sikkim trip. He was the one who had told me about this bakery as well. He is one of the very few people that I cherish to be there in my life. It is aptly said that nothing is sexier than a real, intellectually motivating conversation between two like-minded people.

One day when we were discussing about the Pelling itinerary, my D Dada suddenly mentioned, ‘Years ago, when we visited Pelling, we discovered a small bakery there, in the middle of the road. I don’t remember its name, but it was somewhere on the way to Pemayangtse monastery from Pelling.’ He also told me that it was situated amidst the most picturesque backdrop; a solitary bakery by the side of the road, away from the hustle bustle of the town. No wonder his words got imprinted on my mind and ‘mission to find the solitary bakery’ got incorporated in my itinerary in no time.

Dear reader, if you have read my travelogue, you already know that our Pemayangtse trip was an adventurous one. We were walking through the deserted Geyzing-Pelling road towards Pemayangtse, and there it was - my hitherto anonymous, lone bakery by the side of the road. Only I now knew that it’s called Lotus bakery. If you have ever been to Pelling, you will be aware that the Geyzing-Pelling road is canopied by dense forest on both sides. Lotus bakery looks like a lone, little hut in the midst of the woods. We had decided to have our evening tea at the bakery on our way back to Pelling and when we came back we were already exhausted. The idea of having tea sounded like a brilliant one by then; we badly needed to rest our legs.

Lotus bakery looked nothing like our CCD or Barista (both I considered to be disgrace upon humanity). It was not even nearly half as fancy as the Baker’s CafĂ©. Lotus bakery consisted of a single, one-story hut whose front portion served as the sitting area and the back portion as the bakery itself. There was a counter in the middle that also worked as a partition between the two sections, where one could place their order. A single lady seemed to be the sole manager of the place. She also had her cutest little daughter with her who very interested in striking up a conversation with us. A few most ordinary looking tables and chairs were neatly arranged across the cafeteria. We occupied one table after placing our order at the counter. No fancy decoration, no music, no annoying, pretentious waiter with fake accent; just a simple, tidy place that radiated the humility and the serenity Sikkim is most famous for. I must mention here, we were the only tourist customers in the hut.

The food arrived shortly. We had ordered apple cinnamon roll, Danish bread, chocolate croissant along with tea as per everyone’s own choice. I had cardamom tea. I am no expert at food, but I think I ate the best apple cinnamon roll of my life at Lotus bakery. Each of the items seemed to have come freshly baked from oven. I don't take milk or sugar in my tea, but the hot, sweet cardamom tea tasted like heaven in that chilly afternoon. We reckoned they served the famous Temi tea of Sikkim here.

We again came back the next day for breakfast before starting for our day trip to Yuksom valley. This time too we were the only tourist customers there. The locals seemed to be more interested in take-away.

This time I had a better chance to look around the place in the daylight. The wicker walls of the hut were decorated with myriad pictures and posters. Among them, I noticed posters of a school were mostly highlighted. I was intrigued. I kept looking around and then found this poster just above the counter.

I bought the brochure before leaving and soon discovered the interesting story behind this most amazing place. Lotus bakery is an initiative by hill tribal school named Denjong Padma Choling Academy. This academy was founded under Muyal Liang Trust, a trust founded by Yapo Sonam Yongda in 1980. ‘Yapo’ means the ‘learned one’. Yapo S Yongda was an exceptionally talented man himself for which he earned that title. He was educated at the great Pemayangtse monastery and finished his study much earlier than the normal duration. He was trained at the IMA, Dehradun and appointed as the Aide de Camp of the Chogyal of Sikkim. His majesty was interested in establishing an academy that would provide both spiritual and materialistic teachings and appointed Yapo in charge of it. Hence DPCA was born. DPCA provides education to underprivileged, orphan children of Sikkim from nursery to class X, free of all cost. They also provide a mandatory education in the Nyingmapa school of Vajrayana Buddhism. (For those who don't know, Vajrayana Buddhism or the Tibetan Buddhism is divided among four different schools. Nyingma, Gelug, Sakya and Kagyu. Nyingmapa is the oldest school of all, having founded by Guru Padmasambhava himself during 8th century.) The school also gives professional training to its students so that they attain self-reliance via several cottage industries of Sikkim. The school is also proud to have an Alumni Association comprising of doctors, engineers, professors, IAS officers etc. DPCA has an objective to work as a congregation between modern education and monastic teachings & values.

DPCA aspires to be upgraded to a Degree level college someday. But financial hindrance is their biggest concern. MLT receives very little help from govt. of India. They used to get generous foreign help earlier, but that has reduced substantially over the years. The school has its own cooperative society and part of that venture is our little Lotus Bakery which has been running successfully for past years. The entire income from the bakery goes to provide free education to underprivileged kids of the DPCA.

DPCA earned a National Award for ‘outstanding work in the field of child welfare’ in 1989.

If you wish to help MLT to support underprivileged, destitute children of the Himalayas, you can contact them in the below address.

Muyal Liang Trust
Denzong Padma Choling Academy
Drakchung Dzong, Yongda Hill
P.O. Pelling-737113, West Sikkim
Phone: +91 94745 32034/ 97330 18062
Email: muyalling@hotmail.com/ gmail.com