Saturday, August 31, 2013

Revisiting Dalapchand

Sketch of Lingtu Fort from Dolepchen (1888)
It may sound strange, the famed Lampokhari better known as Aritar Lake is not at Aritar but is found within the boundary of Dalapchand.  I too like many was unknown of this fact until during my two years stay at Dalapchand SS.
I had come across people out there who told me myths of Lampokhari that were followed from one generation to another. The oral folk-lore are fabled stories thou sometimes hard to believe but are nevertheless interesting to read. I believe it is these stories that gave birth to the charishma of Lampokhari that is today visited for its mesmerizing and unparallel beauty.
Dalapchand originally called Do-le-che means flattened rock as old people recounts. This little known village more popular for its green vegetables today was a major mule route to Tibet started during British Expedition 1888 till Indo-China conflict in the early 60s. Today more than five decades after the closing of the mule driven trade along with the development of better transportation facilities those mule routes at Dalapchand are now scattered in patches. Those routes are now left with wild grasses and its golden past long lost.
Gadha-taar is one such place at Mandir Line, Dalapchand which still holds its name from its long drawn out history. It is an open field where sports activities of the locality are occasionally held off lately. Old folks talks about mules being kept to rest at this open field few decades back. Similarly to the place where Lampokhari Festival is held annually, there used to be a grass go-down that stored grasses for the mules during the trading season. Often I have heard people at that place would enjoy their late night staying with dance and drinks then.
It is interesting to note that Dipok Dey, well-known Postal Stamp designer in his article on Sikkim Postal History mentions, it was the aftermath of the British Expedition 1888 that laid the foundation of the Postal History of Sikkim. The year 1888 saw the British Expedition Force driving out the Tibetan forces beyond the Jalepla that led to the permanent stationing of the military escort at Gangtok. Thus, it was finally that a Post & Telegraph Office was set up in Gangtok.
An old mule route at Dalapchand.
With the advance of troops, a Post Office was opened at Dulapchin (now Dalapchand) that was later removed to Ranglichu (now Rongli). At the same time, other Post Offices were also opened at Gnatong, Sedonchin, Gangtok, Rhenock Bazaar and Pakyong.
Dalapchand must be a place of significance to the British towards the latter 1880s where it finds its name printed in a map of Sikkim in 1888, the name mentioned is ‘Dolepchen’. I have found another instance where during the Sikkim Expedition 1888 a sketch had been printed on a book of Lingtu (now Lungthung) fort that was earlier occupied by the Tibetans. The British had pushed back the Tibetans beyond Jalepla.