East Himalaya

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Aye mere watan ke logo... The Heritage of Nationalism

Thi khun se lath path kaaya, phir bhee banduk uthaake
 Das das ko ek ne maara, phir gir gaye hosh ganvaake
 Jab ant samay aaya toh - 2, kah gaye ke abb marate hain
 Khush rahana desh ke pyaaro - 2, (abb ham toh safar karate hain) - 2
 Kya log the woh diwaane, kya log the woh abhimaani
 Jo shahid huye hain unaki, jara yaad karo kurbaani
 Tum bhul naa jaao unako, iss liye kahee yeh kahaani
 Jo shahid huye hain unaki, jara yaad karo kurbaani
How many of us have tried to read about the making of India, the root of the thought process of one nation, which came through the Indian Freedom Movement. The words like Anushilan Samiti, Jugantar, Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, Kotwal Dasta, Halagali, India House, Gadar Party and Berlin Committee hardly rings any bells in my ears. On this 100th year of MARTYRDOM of Baghajatin, I feel guilty of not being a part of the same. The best part is that the 4th MCCS Gitanjali Mango Festival, which was held at Siliguri a few months back, was dedicated to this sacrifice of the legendary Jatindranath Mukherjee, popularly Baghajatin, for his sacrifice for Indian Freedom, where he said “Aamra Morbo, Jagat jagbey” translated means “as we die, the world will realize”, realize the importance of freedom of India from the then British rule. On the 9th of September, 1915, he and his 04 companions were encountered at Chashakhand in Balasore District of Odisa. Baghajatin could not survive the fatal injuries which he received while fighting with the large contingent of Government forces and died on 10th of September, 1915 at Balasore Hospital.
We all know the famous Siliguri Town Station incident of 1908, when he handled 03 British soldiers along with an officer for mishandling a poor old Indian lady, bare handed, he knocked them down. This station is a part of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the only World Heritage Site of the Sikkim and North Bengal. Many enlightened people still take pride in taking selfies here. Most of such enlightened citizens feel that this old station should be restored as a World Heritage Site dedicated to Baghajatin.
 We all are busy, we all have the freedom of work, speech and action under a free nation’s constitution. Many a times we forget to remember our great freedom fighters, who thought about one nation, one India or Bharat.
Aye mere vatan ke logon, jara aankh me bhar lo paani
Jo shahid huye hain unaki, jara yaad karo kurbaani

This action of starting the 100 Years of Baghajatin's Martyrdom from the Mango Festival at Siliguri was initiated by Institute of Social & Cultural Studies, who brought the soil (mati) from the places, where Baghajatin fought to death at Chasakhand, Odisa in India and his place of birth Kaya Gram, Kustia in present Bangladesh.
The inauguration was attended by several personalities from India and Bangladesh and a committee for North Bengal was formed, keeping in view Baghajatin's connection with Darjeeling and Siliguri.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Explore Sikkim: Namthang Villages & Namchi Connections

I often do not understand that when I fall in love with a place, she has something to do with the sun. Last time the place was Namthang in East Sikkim. Nam means sun and thang means place or habitat. This is a new road which ascends from Melli Bazaar, immediately after the check-post and goes towards Namchi, Namthang is between, almost 45 minutes either ways. As per the Sikkimese tradition, the boy and the girl in love runs away from the house has to return to Namthang, where the parents of both sides will be called and the marriage will be fixed, and hence considered to be one of the most auspicious places to start life.

It is not alone about Namthang, but the cluster of villages, which are surrounded by forests, view-points, lakes and organic agricultural fields. The top of Namthang is a high forest overlooking the snow-capped peaks of the Mt.Khangchendzonga range. Many years ago, when people could hardly access this area, a monk from Bhutan (Druk Yul) came and meditated here. Learning about his powers, people slowly started visiting him, but only the blessed could do so. Finally when he left, it is believed that he hid all the treasures in the two small lakes at the top, which he left to two large King Cobras to guard them. Hence, the name Nagi Pokhari, pokhari meaning lake. Realising the importance of the area, since last year the local tourism committee started with the “Nagi Pokhari Tourism & Organic Festival”. This year again the Festival is starting on 31st of December, 2015 and will be there for 03 days.
The other places of interest would be the Holy cave of the Lepchas, Palitam. The local agriculture office offers interesting hands-on training in organic farming from 03 days to 02 weeks duration. The bamboo craft and candle making groups from the area has created sensation in Sikkim with their skills. For Birdwatchers, this is paradise, especially from the river beds of Rangit to the top of Nagi, which is 6000 feet plus, the Kitam Bird Sanctuary is a part. A very rare, but interesting trek routes exists between Namthang to Tendong Hill. Magajung, the place known for the historic war is a natural hub. The Ghanti Dara, the Samten Choeling Lepcha monastery, the tiny hamlet of Phongla and above all the culture of the people can be explored at Namthang. The Tamang Dance from Maniram has earned a name for themselves, nationally. The best part of the Namthang experience is that the only kinds of accommodation are Homestays with the local people.
Namchi is a deep rooted part of my journey, as my first exploration of Sikkim in Help Tourism, started with Nature Study and Adventure Camps for school children, where there were 02 National camps held at Namchi and 02 at Karfecter, near Namchi. The only accommodation at Namchi then was the Youth Hostel with a soccer ground beside it. A beautiful trek route, nature trail and rock-climbing site was found for the campers. The then tiny Bazaar or market place was on the other side and there was hardly of any need. Today it almost seems to be of the size of the Jorethang Bazaar or market and the places of interest developed around are some of the replicas of the most important Shiva temples of India, known as Char Dhaam (the four Holy Shrines of Lord Shiva).
Guru Rimpoche, popularly known as Guru Padmasambhava, the great soul who sowed the seed of Buddhism in the high Himalayan and Tibetan plateau region has been put as a high statue (118 feet tall) in the sky as Samdruptse. Not very far away, about 03 kms from the junction of Damthang is the Indian Himalayan Centre for Adventure and Ecotourism (IHCAE) of Chemchey. Within half an hour drive from Chemchey is Ravangla, which now houses the world famous Tathagath Sthal or Buddha Park. The best part about Namchi is that she has evolved as one of largest Convention centres in East Himalaya, with some of the finest accommodating hotels, natural eco-resorts along with authentic Homestays. The journey can continue to the only tea estate of Sikkim, Temi or to Ralong and Borong. But I still need to explore the route from South to North Sikkim...