Sangachelling Gompa in Sikkim, East India (1925)
It was an opportunity for me to be part of the recently held Two Days Seminar on Strategy for Heritage Management for Sikkim organised by the Cultural Department at Denzong Residency, Gangtok that i did not wanted to miss. It was my dedication towards understanding the old days of Sikkim that gave me a chance to have a closer look about what has been going on or I would rather say what the higher officials were thinking about Sikkim History as a whole; this was also my first foray into the big league. I was happy to be among the learned personalities of Sikkim, sitting beside them and taking note on what they were talking on. It was more than an honour for me (as a student of Sikkim History) to be invited and could interact with the officials out there. The meet though left many unanswered questions but I am sure in days to come, the quest to preserve the story of Sikkim for the coming generations shall have some definite outcome.
There were questions during our interacting sessions I would have love to have the answers for them but I believe it was more of an unfair means to ask to those resource persons ( most of whom were teachers or architect) speaking on the topics provided to them on that day who were not in true sense related to that field. It was an inspiring occasion for me when one of the readers read few paragraphs from my article I have written few years back and that can be easily access able in the internet through my blog “Proud to be a Sikkimese”.
For the last couple of years I have been following Sikkim History on my personal ground and the biggest happiness I could gather from my studies are those lesser mistakes couple of the readers made, should had been avoided. Sikkim lacks a Sikkim Historian, I consider it is due to this fact many queries about the old Sikkim remains unanswered. Sikkim History has many debatable issues, let’s take few examples; what were the capitals of Sikkim? All major books derived from English writers write about the four capitals that the small kingdom of Sikkim had over the three centuries. But a chance of exchanging words with Oxford scholar Saul Mallard, who specializes on Tibetan languages, pointed out to me that to understand the correct and exact history of Sikkim one must understand the Tibetan language first. According to him, Yoksum is not the first capital of Sikkim!
I have always seen confusion among the people in naming the first monastery of Sikkim. According to The Gazetteer of Sikhim written by HH Rishley and published from Calcutta in 1894; Sanga Chelling (meaning the place of secret spells) Monastery near Pelling was build in 1697 is the oldest monastery of Sikkim. While Dubdi (meaning The Hermit's cell) Monastery was build in 1701. In later years the Sanga Chelling Monastery got burned and was reconstructed in 1965. The confusion starts here when most of the writers read their work as Dubdi is the first monastery of Sikkim. When an actual building is removed (here burned) as in case of Sanga Chelling how correct are we to replace its original construction years. The State Government of Sikkim is trying their best to preserve the cultural heritage of Sikkim in protecting and preserving the ancient Sikkim but are we thinking about the Chumbi Palace that was once part of Sikkim but now in Tibet.
Pic: National Archives of UK