Having a piece of Buddha's delight

Serenity

Who says rain plays spoilsport? At least, not in the hills. I am wiped out after an arduous journey of 16 hours.

Sights : Pemayangste Monastery

I am in Sikkim, the darling child of Mother Nature. The place is Pemayangste, a nondescript forested village near Pelling, a beautiful spot in the state. My hotel overlooks the Sangalila range. Kangchenjunga can be seen at the farthest. In moments, a fine drizzle begins to veil the hills and the entire surroundings.  Heaven’s sprinkle has acted like a wiper:  the entire snow-capped mountain range  can be viewed in all its glory. The rain has pulled the curtain over the hills, which until then were cloaked in mist.

Outside the hotel, a short path leads to an arch, beckoning one toward the Pemayangste Monastery, which means the ‘Perfect Sublime Lotus’. It is one of the celebrated, oldest and most important monasteries of Nyingmapa Order of Buddhism in Sikkim. Built in the 17th century at an altitude of 2085 m, this Gompa is encircled by the haunting beauty of Kangchenjunga and its retinue of peaks.

A chamber with a big and colourful prayer wheel is tucked away in a corner.  The complex teems with yellow flags. It is a three-storeyed structure wherein the main hall has aesthetically painted doors and windows depicting Tibetan designs. The walls are adorned with traditional frescoes depicting tantric Buddhist themes. The main statue of Padmasambhava is seen in a dreadful form with multiple heads and arms. The monastery’s main attraction is the wooden replica of Zangdok Palri, the celestial abode of Padmasambhava. Intricately sculpted by a single monk, it is said to have taken five years  to complete.

A brisk half hour walk just below the monastery leads to a palace, now in
ruins. Commendably maintained and preserved by ASI, with encouraging signages on the winding track (prodding the fatigued visitor to move on)and manicured lawns around the ruins, this site takes the pride of place in the history of Sikkim. Rabdentse, acknowledged as the second capital of Sikkim (after Yuksom), was abandoned at the end of 18th century due to the incursion of Nepalese armies and was shifted to Tumlong.

With the passing of time, Rabdentse was desolated and the ravages of time have turned the royal capital into ruins. The chortens around the palace have, however, stood the test of time.

On the following day, I resorted to the usual sightseeing. I had a look at the Singshore Bridge, an engineering marvel which spans across a deep gorge, connecting two hills. A visit was also paid to Khecheopalri Lake, one that is revered by Hindus and Buddhists for its magical healing powers. And of course, I experienced the symbiotic effect of light and sound at the Kanchenjunga Falls, where the water cascades down snowy peaks.

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