02 August, 2009

Mystery beyond the ladder story of Daramdin-2

Another fascinating input to my finding led me to some unknown discussions about the origin of the earthen tower story. We believed the story was related to Lepchas but out here close to the Lepchas is the Limboo community as well as the Newar community who share the earthen story to have belonged to them. Limboo community believe they were the earliest settlers in this region and it was their story while the Newar populace claim they were the very potters that build the earthen tower, told a local from Daramdin. Close to the vicinity of the Daramdin bazaar there lays a cave made from the chink of a huge stone. Small openings take us to a chamber where the local believe it to be a meditation room. I found many locals echoing they had become aware of this cave ever since their childhood and had played around it. The so-called cave has a cube shaped stone scored to such fashion that it seems symbolic of some ritual activities. The close associated walls on it’s left with some inscription of Limboo language (most probably), do develop curiosity. Surely it strikes, is it related to earthen tower story, I ask myself? Just below the ridge lie a place Kumalay Tar named after the settlements of the kumalays (potters). They were the Newar potters from Nepal. Though the kumalays are no more now but the name of that place do still remain to add more mystery to the story.

An unknown symbol found in a cave at Daramdin

My first reaction when I saw the very historical (!) site which recorded the presence of pot pieces, it was nothing than a sheer stance that for me looked more of a common village field found in most part of hilly regions. There was nothing extraordinary I was looking for beside its rich fable. Next to this field is a burial place and I was told most of the bodies buried under the burials belonged to the Newar community. What was more interesting was the rare instance that Hindu Newars by no means lay to rest their families underground, as far as my little knowledge is concerned. Some of the pieces of that pottery are displayed at the Museum of Sonam Tshering Lepcha, a Lepcha artifact collector at Kalimpong. In one of his interview published in weekly Weekend Review from Gangtok in 2002, he assumed this to be 3,600 years old. This grandpa having crossed more than seven decades of his life span holds some rare artifacts of Lepchas prime periods and among one of his prized processions is few fragments of pots he collected from Daramdin way back in 1975. Also found in his museum is the mock-up of the pottery ladder.

Earthern ladder model at Lepcha Museum, Kalimpong

According to the article ‘The lake-and–ladder story‘ published in A Stranger’s Note & Other Essays, it had been mentioned about the naming of the place Daramdin which goes as Da (lake) ram (obliterate) din (remove); the Lepcha turned then lake into the present land and constructed a ladder on it. It had been mentioned after the visit of Sonam Tshering Lepcha at Daramdin, the scientists from Sikkim and India had brought large quantities of pot pieces that were quite different from the one collected by Sonam Tshering Lepcha himself. Later on it became apparent that the pots collected by those people were from the graveyard!

In the text from Puratatva, a bulletin of the Indian Archeological Society, in its piece of writing on “Prehistoric Exploration in Sikkim”, the team of Prehistory Branch of Archeological Survey of India, Nagpur during their two month long exploration in Sikkim in 1980 had reported of finding couple of dozens of Neolithic Tools in regions of Dzongu, Mangan, Singhik, Dikchu and nearby areas including the Pakyong. The report said the pottery was significantly absent in the sites explored. They further wrote “in such landscape one does not expect proper earth for the manufacture of pottery. Neither could a kiln be possibly made here. Before the coming of aluminum or brass utensils, the people used to have their vessels made of wood. They did even boil their food in these wooden vessels by plastering the necessary parts with mud.”

This ladder incident finds mentions in a collection of folk tales of Lepcha published in 1981 that included some new pages of information that was never heard before. It is said that it took twelve years for the Lepcha people to construct the tower that was on an accordable height. Finally when the tower fell off due to mix-up of proper pronunciation, it was believed that the huge tower fell on the opposite hills of the Daramdin forming three valleys of hills towards the now Darjeeling jurisdiction. Such that the three valleys got their name from it, those hills were Maney Bhanzyang, Kaizalay Bhanzyang and Reling Bhanzyang!

The field at Daramdin where the earthern pieces were found

I would like to conclude my fascinating story of the ladder incident of Daramdin from the tale that I found it very interesting about the naming of the Daramdin. The book I had been following is A.K.Fonning’s Lepcha-My Vanishing Tribe, I find this book very informative and loved the way it had been written. The book says that it was the Nembangu clan of Lepcha tribe that had supposedly constructed the earthen tower and the particular spot was earlier known as “Kado-Rom-Dyen” meaning “we ourselves smashed it down”. With bygone days the first two alphabets of the first word from Kado-Rom-Dyen got lost and thus we found the new and the most famous names in Sikkim folk lore…it was Do-Rom-Dyen.

My skeptic mind is still looking out for more generous explanation of certain queries. It do drive me to a thought is it not possible that those kumalay had different settlements in this part of land and the pieces recovered were the distorted pot pieces left by them. It really makes me think there should be some carbon-14 dating of the materials that are assumed to belong to the graveyard pots too, is it not that over the years we were collecting those graveyard pot pieces and maintaining it to be of the mythic Daramdin Earthen Tower!

It is hard to decide whether the incident had actually happened to this part of Sikkim but the fact remains that whether or not the story had any authenticity, the ladder story of Daramdin shall always stay close to Lepcha people and to Sikkim. To some extent old Lepcha folks had that wild imagination and romanticism that they borrowed the story (if) from other source to boast their kids. If the story seemed borrowed, what about the fragments still found at the fields of Daramdin?

01 August, 2009

Identify this place............

Here we are again back to the question we last had in Proud to be Sikkimese. So, anyone identifies this place in Sikkim.

31 July, 2009

Musket Balls and Cannon balls found in Tumlong Palace ruins

War objects found at Tumlong Palace ruins

Little is known about the collapse of the Tumlong Palace, the third official capital of the kingdom of Sikkim but the findings of few war-related objects from the ruins of the site have added some exciting tidings. Found from the Palace ruins are cannon balls, musket balls and an iron gear. These objects could probably be looked upon as a new era of warfare that was brought to the Himalayan land of Sikkim by the British. These materials are presently under the preservation of Archives Department, Gangtok.

After Rabdenste, the second capital of Sikkim was repeatedly attacked by the Nepal royal army, Tshudpud Namgyal, the than Chogyal of Sikkim shifted his capital from Rabdenste to Tumlong in 1793. Tumlong was the capital of Sikkim till 1884 when Chogyal Thutob Namgyal shifted his capital to present day Gangtok.

Musket balls

Cannon ball

Sikkim Royal family vehicle licence plate (1965)

From the page of National Geographic (1965)

The photograph was taken during the coronation of Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal at Gangtok (1965).

29 July, 2009

In memory of " Proud to be a Sikkimese"

As it is often said.....show must go on.....life has to start off, despite irregularities. So, despite several failures in regaining the password of my old blog "Proud to be a Sikkimese", i am hereby starting a new blog with the same motive as i had in my earlier blog...helping people understand the beauty and the mystic beyond the Sikkim.

Through my blog i had always tried my best to spread my small learning about my Sikkim but i believe some hackers did not liked my contribution. Nevertheless....i am here again doing the same old job...enriching people about me, myself and my Sikkim.

I am sure my readers shall continue me that love and support which i had in " Proud to be a Sikkimese".

28 July, 2009

Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal with Gyalpo Hope Cook

From the pages of National Geographic Magazine (1965).

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