Mankhim view point…….The temple at Mankhim view point is at the height of about 6500 ft and offers a wonderful scenic view of Aritar and hills around it.The temple belongs to Rai community of Nepali origin. The Nandi outside the temple and various tridents in the premises suggest that the temple is dedicated to lord Shiva however the Shivalinga inside temple is in different form than found in other parts of country. Lord here is called Paruhang. Rai, mainly a community of cultivators consider themselves children of Peruhung, who is supposed to reside in Himalayas. Rai people in Sikkim gather here every year to celebrate Sakewa, a festival celebrated for expressing gratitude towards Mother Earth. Sakewa is also known as Bhumi pooja or Chandi pooja. Prayers are offered  for peace and protection of all living  beings and for rich crops and cultivation.

 

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Temple at Mankhim view point.

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Peruhang….inside temple. As it was annual festival time in the valley, we found many youngsters visiting temple in groups and pairs. youngsters clad in western outfits, different colored streaks in hair and half shaved head kind of hairstyles…. taking off their sports shoes and bowing before God with that expression of surrender and reverence….. somehow the sight felt very reassuring.

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Nandi and Kalash in row outside temple.

Besides panoramic view of hills and mountains, from here we can also enjoy the beauty of Lampokhri lake and scenes around it.

 

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and when the blues descend to embrace greens, the dreamscape created is so surreal, so inviting that you close your eyes, stretch your arms and are almost ready to be lost in oblivion…. Niravana kind of feel.

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From up there, the view point, the terrace fields looked like wide spread poetry sheets, nurturing life in their womb.

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 A glimpse of  Lampokhri lake from Mankhim view point. Without the emerald spread all other colours would look so static.

 

Later on we went down to Lampakhori lake. Annual cultural function and fair was going on at the ground near lake so many parked vehicles and an ongoing stream of people filled the area. However the Green placid lake surrounded by hills and trees promised that on quiet days the place would be worth spending some time in one’s own company. It’s not like that I don’t like humans or I like them less but I like nature more, There midst pathless woods I find a different kind of joy, sitting on a roadside rock, looking at the mist covered street dissolving in oblivion ,as if leads me to altogether different vistas  and I love being there.

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Lampakhori lake and the small temple on it’s bank.

 

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A folk dance by seniors in the cultural fair.

 

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A lady in her stall in fair with some handwoven stuff.

 

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And the light of world, little girls in fair, enjoying their day out. Golgappa, pani batasha, pani-puri, fuchkas…. you may call it by different names in different parts of country  but they definitely are high on ladies favourite list, whatever might the age be.

 

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This Gumpa was quite close to our homestay.

Solitude is the language of these small places on Old silk route and ever smiling, hospitable locals add charm to one’s visit there.

Meet some people who made our Aritar stay more enjoyable—-

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She is Pinchu. We met her on our way to Mankhim view point. To reach view point we need to climb a stretch of well laid stairs and on the way is Pinchu’s home, her shop. Her parents provide home stay facility too. While returning from view point we stopped at Pinchu’s shop for sizzling Wai- Wai and hot coffee. Pinchu made our stop over very enjoyable. Very smart girl she is and was handling the customers confidently, offcourse consulting her parents for cost of items etc. As her father was telling us about their homestay facilities and tourist agency at other places too, Pinchu took out his visiting card from the drawer in shop and handed over to us. Her perfect business woman kind of gesture made us laugh aloud. Nobody there even mentioned the visiting card there but she knew what should be done.

 

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And he is Aryum, our homestay owner’s son. Kid with his young companion, Nasima, a girl of eight years filled our hours with pure joy and laughter, which you can enjoy only in the company of innocent kids only. Aryum and Nasima shared a beautiful relationship. Nasima proudly told us that she was a student of class third.

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She is Aryum’s mom, owner of Shangey homestay. wonderfully efficient lady,. I saw her with amazement running on her toes from ground to second floor, attending all the guests with a charming smile, managing her staff, looking into problems of water, electricity supply and kitchen too.

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And the aesthetically decorated dining space of Shangey homestay. We stayed at four or five homestays during this trip but Shangey homestay at Aritar is our most favourite one.

Reliving my memories feels like that rose pressed between the pages of a book, even after ages I can inhale the fragrance and feel fresh.

 

©All the pictures by— sunder iyer

 

 

Wish I could have got to spend more time at Namdroling monastery. It is not the place for a whirlwind tourist excursion. Here you need to sit silently for hours and hours and just be. When in the monastery, I spent my maximum time in the Golden temple. Sitting quietly there with my eyes resting upon the imposing Buddha idol, I felt like strolling within myself. No, perhaps not even that rather a feeling of stillness and quietness pervaded my being. Sixty feet tall idol of Buddha flanked by Guru Padmasambhava and..Amitayush…….. in sparkling gold, white, red and green cloths looped and festooned in front of idols, colorful paintings and carvings on walls and pillars, pictures of the gurus high on the three sides of walls of hall and hoards of tourists entering and exiting, posing in front of idols, cameras and cell phones clicking, flashes shining……any of these things could have easily distracted me anywhere else but here as if all these things were a part of scheme and hushed calm prevailed above everything. Even the birds flying near the idols were not making noise. Many birds rested on the pillars and carvings around the main idols. We have always encountered those boards and planks with the inscription’ photography not allowed ‘ on almost every religious place like temples.Even at the places, which have almost nothing worth clicking such signboards are displayed. But at this magnificent seat of tranquility one can use camera freely and believe me these neither disturb nor distract.

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Inside the main temple in the monastery

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closer look of the idols

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dragon on the pillar

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Murals and paintings on the walls. Almost all the walls of all the three temples in the premises were covered with the bright colored paintings of mythological references. Wish could learn more about these. The book shop in the premises was closed at the time we visited otherwise may be could have got some book about their mythological tales and creatures.

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Entrance to the temple. These are the wooden beads hanging as a curtain.

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outside the main temple

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Another smaller temple in the premises. This had many prayer scriptures kept there lined, many instruments and was adorned with many symbols. Wish could learn more about those symbols.

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The long wind pipe looking instrument inside the temple. We were told monks blow it when prayers are conducted.

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A closer look of an instrument and prayer scriptures inside this temple.

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This is the first temple we behold while entering the monastery. The moment I laid my eyes on it, I stood there awestruck, resplendent in the afternoon sun, it’s high golden shikhar with the rainbow arch appeared to be in commune with the simmering blue sky above. It was not just splendid and magnificent. It beckons you to take into another world.

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inner view of this temple.

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another view of this temple

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The young disciple, walking towards his settlement. Many monks dressed in their traditional attires can be seen in temple premises, busy in their chores.

We visited Namdroling monastery while our way back from Coorg to Bangalore. Namdroling was established by His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche. He laid down the foundation stone of the three storeyed main temple and the place was consecrated by His Holiness Dalai lama. The name Namdroling was bequeathed to the monastery by him only. His holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche was the eleventh throne holder of Palyul lineage of Nyingma. He attained Niravana in 2009.

Namdroling monastery is located in Bylakuppe, which falls in Mysore district . Bylakuppe is approximately two hours by road from Mysore and about five hours or so from Bangalore. The nearest town Kushalnagar is about six Km from Bylakuppe.

Bylakuppe is a Tibetan settlement housing many monasteries, university, educational institutions and residential quarters. Way back in fifties when relations between Dalai Lama and Chinese government strained due to Tibet, he took political asylum in India and there was great exodus of Tibetans from Tibet to India. In 1961 the first Tibtan settlement Lugsung Samdupling was established in Bylakuppe to accommodate Tibetan refugees. As refugees from Tibet continued to come steadily, eight years later in 1969 another settlement Dickey Larsoe was established next to the first settlement. Now it is an important center of Tibetan Buddhists rather than a refugee settlement.

As we headed towards highway after visiting monastery, the colorful prayer flags fluttering in the cool wind over the houses, buildings, lanes and trees appeared to me , trying to stop me. I felt as if they are trying to tell me that there is a lot more to know and feel in this place.
We had a very short visit but the experience left an impact on me which I shall cherish for a long time. I definitely felt more at peace with myself.

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The present moment
contains past and future.
The secret of transformation,
is in the way we handle this very moment.
— Thich Nhat Hanh – Understanding Our Mind

Pics by Sunder Iyer