Story of a Gurdwara in Sikkim

Story of a Gurdwara in Sikkim

By Dalvinder Singh (Grewal) Monday, December 02, 2002 – 12:00 AM GMT+=

A group =
consisting of Sardar Harbhajan Singh (Setia) and fourteen other Sikh dev=
otees from Delhi returned last March after a visit to Gurdwara Guru Dong=
mar in North Sikkim.

Gurdwara Nanaklama,SikkimThis picture sh=
ows tree grown in shape of stick believed to have been dug by Guru Nanak=
when he visited the place Chungthang in Sikkim.Picture taken=
by Jaspreet Singh in around 2002.

Guru Dongmar is a=
lake at a height of 18,000 feet alongside a glacial peak known by the s=
ame name. The lake remains frozen most of the year due to heavy snowfall=
for almost six months each year. Guru Nanak visited the place during hi=
s third udasi in order to solace the Karma-pa Nying-ma-pa sects then bei=
ng hounded out from Tibet by the Ge-lug-pa sect. Many from the Karma-pa =
Nying-ma-pa sect were the followers of Guru Nanak, as their Head Lamas b=
ecame Guru Nanak’s followers in Kailash Mansarovar area after being impr=
essed by Guru Nanak’s discussions with the famous Sidhas of the age. The=
se sects had fled from Tibet to the Himalayan belt of Northern India, wh=
ich included Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttra-Khand, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhuta=
n and Arunachal Pradesh.

Records show that during his journeys to=
the Himalayas and the Far East, including China, Guru Nanak visited all=
these states around 1516 AD. This itinerary is found recorded in Janam =
Sakhee Bhai Bala; Janam Sakhee Walait Wali; Janam Sakhee Meharban; Janam=
Sakhee B-40; Suchak Parsang by Bhai Behlo; Mahima Parkash by Baba Sarup=
Chand; Parchian Sewa Das; Nanak Prakash by Bhai Santokh Singh; Nanak Pa=
rkash, Twarikh Guru Khalsa and Gurdham Prakash by Gyani Gian Singh; Guru=
Khalsa Twareekh by Giani Lal Singh (Sangrur); Jeevan Charit Guru Nanak =
Dev ji by Dr. Trilochan Singh; Travels of Guru Nanak by Dr. Surinder Sin=
gh (Kohli); Atlas of Travels of Guru Nanak by Dr Fauja Singh and Kirpal =
Singh; Guru Nanak’s Travels to Himalayan and East Asian Region by Dr. Da=
lvinder Singh (Grewal) (the author), and a host of other researchers. Th=
ough Janamsakhis and other contemporary material are vague about the nam=
es of the places, yet they are specific about Al-Lachen Bhutan Des which=
are specially mentioned in these Janamsakhis.

Gurdwara Nanaklama, Sikkim This is a picture of gurdwara =
CHUNGTHANG Sikkim India where locals hang scriptures along=
with Nishan sahib in prayer in bodhic style.It is believed guru nank de=
v ji visited this place and dug his walking stick at a place there ; whe=
re 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 k=
und was also made to appear there by Guruji .Place was visited by chance=
by S. Jaspreet singh who shot this picture in year around 2002, while t=
ouring Sikkim on way to Kanchanchanga base camp.

The local people of the area and Lamas of Karma-pa Nying-ma-pa Sect=
confirm Guru Nanak’s visit to these areas. The Lamas from these areas h=
ave been visiting Golden Temple, Amritsar, regularly to pay obeisance to=
their beloved Guru Rimpoche, Guru Nanak, also known as Nanak Lama in th=
eir areas. Guru Nanak’s footprints, a robe and a water-carrying utensil =
(kamandal) are preserved in Lachen Gompha, Sikkim, commemorating his vis=
it to the place.

After his visit to Kailash-Mansarovar, Guru Nana=
k returned along Kali River and went to Nepal, where an ancient Gurdwara=
at Kathmandu, on the bank of river Bishnumati commemorates his visit. V=
isiting various religious places in Nepal, he crossed over to Tibet thro=
ugh Nanak-la pass and reached Sakya monastery. The earlier king of Tibet=
from Karma-pa Sect was, by then, deposed by the Ge-lug-pa sect but was =
still holding on to this monastery. Guru Nanak helped Trasung Deochung r=
econstruct this monastery. Trasung Deochung honoured him with a robe tha=
t is preserved in Lachen Gompha.

From Tibet, Guru Nanak entered S=
ikkim through Chhorten-Nyi-ma-la. Passing through Dolma Sampa and Tongpe=
n, he entered Muguthang valley where he visited Kedang, Bendu, Sherang, =
Lyingka, and Muguthang. He went through Naku la and Lawu Gompha and reac=
hed plateau area around Guru Dongmar.

In this plateau the yak gra=
zers approached Guru Nanak with a request, that: “they do not find water=
in winter as it gets frozen all over, temperature falling down to minus=
35 degrees.” The Guru (Guru Nanak) hit the perpetually snow-covered Gur=
u Dongmar Lake with his stick to provide water to the grazers. The ice m=
elted giving way to crystal clear water. Since then the water of the lak=
e is stated to never freeze. The lake and the hill feature atop came to =
be known as Gurudongmar Lake and hill respectively. The same names are f=
ound recorded in the ancient maps prepared by the British in nineteenth =

Some grazers projected another problem to Guru Nanak. Du=
e to the effect of altitude, their virility was affected. They requested=
the Guru to do something about it. Guru Nanak blessed the lake, saying,=
” Whosoever takes the water of this lake will gain virility and strength=
and will be blessed with children.” The people of the area have firm fa=
ith in Guru’s words and consider the water of the lake as nectar. A Gurd=
wara was constructed in eighties to commemorate Guru Nanak’s visit to th=
e place. We used to trek to Gurudongmar then, after traveling from Chung=
thang on foot, covering the distance in six days.

The Gurdwara wa=
s constructed after full inquiries from head lamas of Buddhist monitorie=
s (gomphas) at Fudong, Chungthang, Lachen, Lachung and Thangu and all th=
e local people, and with their active help.

From Gurudongmar, Gur=
u Nanak went to Thangu, Lachen, Chungthang, Lachung, Yumthang and Pyakoc=
hin. At Chungthang a gurdwara, a tree grown out of Guru’s stick=
, footprints of the Guru, a spring, and the rice-fields blessed by Guru =
Nanak commemorate Guru Nanak’s visit. At Pyakochin, an engraving on ston=
e, in Gurmukhi script, was earlier preserved to commemorate the visit of=
Guru Nanak. From Pyakochin the Guru is stated to have crossed over to C=
humbi Valley through Ghora-la, en-route to Bhutan.

This author cr=
osschecked the above details given by various lamas from over fifty elde=
rly people of the area. Lachen lama even promised to show the old record=
s preserved with him that had an account of Guru Nanak’s visit to the ar=
ea. Staying as an Observation Post Officer at the height adjoining the l=
ake, for over three months in 1987 and later in other areas adjoining, t=
he author oversaw the development of the Gurdwara. People from all relig=
ions thronged the lake and the Buddhists had their regular fair on the l=
ake. They always paid obeisance at the Gurdwara with reverence. There wa=
s no question of any ill will. A Hindu temple was constructed in 1989 to=
uching the Gurdwara, but was removed soon after mutual consultations. Th=
ereafter 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.


A Problem, however, started cropping up only after 1998. The Sikkim G=
overnment and the Army refused to allow visits by pilgrims to the Gurdwa=
ra for reasons best know to themselves, as in the telegram and the lette=
r refusing permission to the Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurudongmar. They ga=
ve no reasons! Now the sudden changes in the cultural traits of the Gurd=
wara smacks of ill intentions of some people at the helm of affairs, pla=
ying games with the faith of the people.

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4 thoughts on “Story of a Gurdwara in Sikkim

  1. The story is true as i have personally visited sikkim and gurudwara Chungthang and seen the same impressions there.Even during my visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh i heard the similar stories from locals who have great respect for Guru ji.Guru ji came on the earth not only for Punjab but the whole world.

    1. I have been to leh…chungthang …seen these gurudwaras and heard almost the same stories…I am not a historian but I know the backgrd as to how this gurudwara came up in chungthang…thanx to CO Assam Rifles ( Sikh Officer)…Some locals wanted contracts from him …they got it and in the meantime stories came up…(All give and take) I hail from Sikkim and as a child I never heard anything about Guru Nanak in Sikkim…dey even started calling one holy lake in north sikkim as guru danda mar (Gurudomar). A frend of mine who is a sikh onces jokingly said that guru never showed any miracles in punjab…like stopping huge boulder etc etc… come he suddenly became so powerful in these places……In fact CO AR connected Guru frm punjab with Guru rimpoche ( buddhist monk who spread buddism in Sikkim) …between these two gurus there is a difference of almost 300 yrs…so one really cannot say that the two gurus are same….

  2. a very well written article about Guru Nanak Devji’s visit to Sikkim. I have visited Guru Dongmar lake in 2006 and it is a place worth visiting for its historical importance for sikhs as well its sceinic beauty. Now, a small gurudwara has also been constructed next to the lake by Indian Army.


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