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Friday, 18 May 2018

The Shanghak Choeling Monastery, Pelling (West Sikkim) ,and Product Review

   The monastery was the very first thing that our home stay owner had pointed to ,through the window of our room.And she had good reasons to do so. It was in Upper Pelling that we had booked our rooms,where nature had been bountiful already. Blessed magnanimously by the sacred
Kanchenjunga,which bordered the landscape,the monastery was solely an embellishment on this
very magical setting.


Shanghak Choeling Monastery from the home stay

  There have been places in my travels where I have experienced nature in its very raw form.Exactly
the way  it was created.Pelling was undoubtedly one of them. My entire journey from Gangtok to
Pelling, left me in awe at the surreal beauty of the valleys.The varied species of flora and fauna and
the houses perched at such amazingly beautiful locations are only few of the many things that I shall
remember Sikkim for.

Once the monastery was spotted,the very first thing in our itinerary in Pelling was to climb up the pitch road to the place early next morning.For me, the added incentive other than the early morning
feel was to get nature close at hand.That was something I had always missed while I travelled by car.

We did not regret our decision even for a moment.The early morning rays and the disappearing mist,
buds of wild flowers ,which had bloomed on our way back ,besides the overwhelming presence of the Kanchenjunga kept us going.

It was love at first sight.


Prayer flags ushered  our way to the monastery,a very soothing white blue and yellow this time.Every time I saw these flags I wondered extensively about them and convincingly answered my
unanswered questions in my mind.There was some mysticism about them which could always
capture my attention.But this time I decided to ask the young monks sitting in the sun.They answered
in understandable Hindi that the flags are put up to mark some event in the family ,even in
someone's death,and the writings are Buddhist mantras.

   The monastery was no less significant either.Though closed at that  time,it looked stunning in the
vibrant colours on its exterior.The chortens covered in moss were in sharp contrast to the main structure of the monastery .They seemed to narrate the untold story of this place,about when and how this place was established centuries ago ,and more.



Little about the history of the place 

  A board there told that this monastery was founded in 1642 by Lama Lhatsun Chempo Namkha Jigmee ,one of the three  pioneer lamas of Sikkim .It was renovated twice later,once in 1714 and again in 1966.Shangak Choeling meant the place of divine teaching and the place preached the Vajrayana Buddhism ,also referred to as Tibetan Buddhism.

Vajrayana Buddhism as I understand is the tantric form of Buddhism and is also believed by some to have branched out from Mahayana Buddhism.

Very interestingly ,we learnt later that the monastery is known for its secret spells ,and the only people allowed to enter are only men  from the Bhutia and the Lepcha community.

For reasons unknown the monastery was destroyed by fire several times and rebuilt time and again.

Read Here

My experiences at the Gurudongmar Lake,North Sikkim

Yumthang Valley, (North Sikkim) . A Place I Would Love to go Back to Someday

1642, I wondered ! Pelling would have been a dense forest  then. I could perceive all the single minded devotion and the absorption required for the teaching and learning process.The monks  could be seen carrying on  their daily chores unperturbed by the surroundings.

 Our inadequate knowledge about Buddhism and the complete lack of information at the monasteries
barred us from learning and understanding a little more about the place.Nevertheless we
experienced a sense of fulfillment from the divinity the place radiated.

A resting place on the way up

I shall highly  recommend this place for a visit ,if not for religious reasons,for the calmness which is infectious here.The panoramic view from the monastery or the balming effect of the surrounding shall remain etched in my memory for quite sometime.

Product Review

Here I would like to mention that before I started on my trip to Sikkim this summer,I was sent a pack of OiOils,which I found to be very useful on journeys (especially with children).This is India's first and only three -in -one all natural mosquito repellent,made out of 100% essential oils and ZERO chemicals.The pack consists of two sprays out of which one is a pocket friendly one ,and can be easily carried with us.
   It can be sprayed  6 to 8 inches away from the skin or sprayed evenly on the skin with the palm.
The essential oils include Lemon Grass oil,Citronella oil,Clove oil and more and can be sprayed on fabric ,skin or in the room too.


Pelling is at a distance of 115 km from Gangtok by road,and takes 5 hours approximately.The roads are in very good condition and the journey is a joy to be experienced.

   The  Shanga Choeling Monastery in located in Upper Pelling ,which is little less crowded than Middle Pelling . Our home stay was a very short distance away from this place,one can  also opt to stay in Middle Pelling and drive here ,coupled with a visit to the picturesque helipad.Though we had walked up the road to the monastery ,vehicles regularly run on the pitch road.

There are a whole range of hotels available in upper Pelling too ,and one can go for  that ,for a calmer experience.