[Historical Importance]

Gurdwara Nanaklama Sahib

This wonderful historical Gurudwara is situated in Chungthang, which is a town in North Sikkim, an Indian state. Sikkim is a small but beautiful landlocked state nestled in the Himalayas in northern India. It is situated at the confluence of two rivers: River Lachen and Lachung Chu, both tributaries of the "most scenic" River Teesta. The thumb-shaped state borders Nepal in the west, the Chinese Tibet AutonomousRegion to the north and east, Bhutan in the south-east and the Indian state of West Bengal to its south.

Chungthang is located in this state at a distance of 95 kilometres from the capital Gangtok, at an elevation of 1,700 metres (5,600 ft). Guru Dongmar is a lake at a height of 18,000 feet alongside a glacial peak knosswn by the same name. The lake remains frozen most of the year due to heavy snowfall for almost six months each year.

History

It is believed Guru Nanak Dev ji visited this place during his trip (Udasi) to China and Tibet. Guru Nanak Dev ji dug his walking stick at a place where eventually the stick has grown into a tree which has trunk in stick shape and leaves are below the rounded trunk which looks like handle of stick. An amrit kund was also made to appear there by Guru ji. Guru Nanak visited the place during his third udasi in order to solace theKarma pa Nying ma pa sect then being hounded out from Tibet by the Ge lug pa sect. It is also said that Guru Nanak, on one of his journeys along with his disciples, had come across this place and vanquished two demons here before proceeding. The footprints of that battle were believed to be still left on that cordoned off rock. It is also said that Chungthang derived from the Punjabi, "Changa sthan" or good place, whichGuru Nanak had bestowed on it. This however seems a little far-fetched

Construction of Gurudwara

The present Gurdwara structure was built by officers of the Assam Rifles and Army personnel with the help of the local lepcha tribe in the early eighties. The area was restricted to service personnel and local people due to its strategic location near the border with China from the early eighties to 2005. The Assam rifles were transferred in September 2004 raising problems arose for the upkeep for the the Gurdwara. On 24th April 2005, "The Tribune" newspaper reported that the Gurdwara Nanklama at Chungthang Sikkim was opened to public and devotees for services. The Gurdwara was constructed after full inquiries from head lamas of Buddhist monestories (gomphas) at Fudong, Chungthang, Lachen, Lachung and Thangu and all the local people, and with their active help.

The author of this article crosschecked the above details given by various lamas from over fifty elderly people of the area. Lachen lama even promised to show the old records preserved with him that had an account of Guru Nanak's visit to the area. Staying as an "Observation Post Officer" at the height adjoining the lake, for over three months in 1987 and later in other areas adjoining, the author oversaw the development of the Gurdwara. People from all religions thronged the lake and the Buddhists had their regular fair on the lake.

They always paid obeisance at the Gurdwara with reverence. There was no question of any ill will. A Hindu temple was constructed in 1989 touching the Gurdwara, but was removed soon after mutual consultations. Thereafter everything remained cordial till 1994, as regularly watched by this author, who was operative in Sikkim and remained in touch with the Gurdwara till then. Later too, groups of Sikh pilgrims inspired by this author kept on visiting the gurdwara yearly without caring for the great hardships they had to face during the travel. They had all the goodwill of the local people and have sweet remembrance of their treatment.