Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country

Tripoto
31st Jan 2019
Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

The 'Lepchas' are believed to be the original inhabitants of Sikkim. And hence the Dzongu area in North Sikkim has been reserved totally for the 'Lepchas'. It's a belief of the Lepchas that by performing good deeds one gets rewarded with eternal bliss in Mayal Lyang(Heaven). And Dzongu is indeed the gateway to heaven or the Mayal Country, a place blessed by the gods. 😊

We visited the quaint Himalayan Village called 'Lingthem' in Dzongu. There are only two homestays there in this village where you can stay and get yourself immersed in 'Lepcha' tradition and culture. Hence prior booking is advisable.

It's nearly a seven hour long drive from Siliguri. The journey may sound a little long but wonderful for sure, with the river 'Teesta' accompanying you right from the start. You can observe the distinct change in color of the water at different places in it's course. Also the terrain and the weather changes gradually as you move north.

Dzongu being a Lepcha reserve one needs a special permit for entry into the area. So arrange for a permit beforehand with the help of the host of the homestay. Or else you can also arrange it yourself from Sikkim Tourism offices(Indians as well as foreigners). On spot permit also can be made at the check post after crossing Mangan. But in order to get the same, try to reach there as early as possible.

River 'Teesta' near Mangan

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

When we reached Lingthem it was dark and we could feel the nip in the air.

Sangdup Lepcha, our host greeted us and took us to our rooms. The house is made in traditional Lepcha style, perched on solid stands that are made of stone slabs and this makes it resistant to the earthquakes which is quite frequent in this region. They have 5 rooms in total including a prayer room. The washrooms aren't attached but right adjacent to the common area. There is a separate hut which serves as the kitchen and dining area. The entire set up is incredibly tidy, cosy and looks beautiful.

We were served tea and pakoras after we got freshened up. And as it was already quite late as per the mountain clock, they had started making preparations for dinner. In between we tasted the local brew called 'Chee'. 🍺
It is a homemade beer that’s made by fermenting millet, served in a tall bamboo glass with a bamboo pipe. You'll get this almost everywhere in this area. Also look for the organic wines made of fruits. Tastes equally good.

A cup of hot tea, bliss!

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Our room. Though I don't understand the point of keeping a pedestal fan.

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

The Dinning Area.

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

The traditional kitchen.

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Fermented Millet.

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Chee. Tastes Amazing.

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Om Mane Pe Me Hun ????

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Post dinner we all spent some time out there in the open space, chatting amongst ourselves, staring at the night sky. Although it was pitch dark outside, we could see the outline of the towering mountains which stood there silently as guards. Lights twinkling and sparkling in the villages/towns located in the distant hills. The faint sound of the river 'Teesta' flowing somewhere nearby coming to our ears. We were all absorbed by the calmness of the place.

We could have sat outside like that the whole night. But we had to sleep in order to catch the sunrise on the Kanchenjunga early in the morning.
Sim-jah-nahng-go(གཟིམ་ལཇག་གནང་དགོས་། )

The Squad

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

It was around 5:30 in the morning when I heard the door being banged from outside. Before even listening to the what the person had to say, I opened the window curtains right next to my bed and looked outside. And trust me I was awestruck.

Not everyday you wake up and get to see something like this from your bedside window. There was Mt. Kanchenjunga, waiting there to embrace the first rays of the sun.

Heaven it is ❤️

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

We wrapped ourselves with a few more layers and walked outside of the homestay, headed towards the hilltop to catch the much awaited sunrise. We had read before that Lingthem village offered stunning views of 'Mt.Kanchenjunga'. But little did we expect that it could be so good. We silently watched as the first rays of the sun kissed the snowclad mountains and gradually the entire range looked as if it was made of gold.

Sunrise on the Kanchenjunga

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Before the introduction of Buddhism in Sikkim, the Lepchas used to worship Mt. Kanchenjunga. They still consider the mountain as their protector deity. We understood why. Speechless by the royal and majestic presence of the Sleeping Buddha, we started walking back. 🙏

To be continued...

The Royal and Majestic Kanchenjunga

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Today we got a clear picture of the village as well as the place we were living. Step cultivation is done by the villagers with cardamom and rice plantation being the main source of livelihood. Almost every house has a garden where fresh fruits and vegetables are grown. So basically you'll eat what is being grown there. No wonder why Sikkim claims to be an organic state.

The homestay also looked beautiful with the backdrop of forests and the Kanchenjunga.

Paddy Cultivation

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Lingthem Lyang Homestay

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

The Garden

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Post breakfast, we set out to explore the area a bit more. There is a monastery in the upper part of the village. Though it was closed, still we paid a visit. The cotton like clouds sailing in the clear blue sky. The rustling of leaves, the prayer flags waving amidst the cool breeze. And the 'Chortens (མཆོད་རྟེན་དཀར་པོ།)' standing tall symbolizing Buddha’s presence.

A setting so beautiful, so colorful! That's what I love about Sikkim. It's a place where you can simply sit and enjoy the silence.

Lingthem Monastery

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

The Chortens or Stupas

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Next we were headed towards the 'Mamtam' lake. One severe landslide in 2016 led to the formation of this lake in Dzongu. The rocks which fell and piled up in the river bed, created a natural barrier to the flow of river 'Teesta'. However during winters the water dries up and the riverbed is once again visible. The one who has a brave soul can enjoy a dip in the ice cold waters, while the rest can sit, relax and admire nature at its very best.

The Hanging bridge connecting the hills and villages

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

The Colors ❤️

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Pebble Pyramid! Test of patience ????

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

River Teesta

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Brave decision, the water is freezing cold.

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

The last so called place to visit was the hot springs in the village called 'Lingdem'. It was quite crowded and so I preferred to stay back and watch the local football tournament going on there. They have a strong football culture in Sikkim.

Also we had some amazing Maggi for lunch. I just don't understand how the same thing tastes so better in the hills. In the shop we met this cute little guy who was really in a mood to play. And boy, we spent some amazing time together.

The football match going on

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Adorable!

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

The Prayer flags at Lingdem

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Post lunch we returned home. We had the entire evening to ourselves, to chill and relax. A break from the mundane city life. We badly needed this!

And icing on the cake was that we had Gyenchri(I don't know how to spell it) with us. He is a 15 year old boy who has become a monk by choice and studied in the monastery. It was his holiday during that time and so he had came to his teacher's house(Sangdup Ji's Brother) to help them out. He told us about life at the monastery, about the local traditions, culture and religious practices of the place. It was a session worth remembering.

Gyenchri

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Next morning we had to leave early as it was going to be a long downhill journey. Like all goodbyes, this one was difficult as well. More so because of the love and care we received from Sangdup Ji and his family. Before we left he also gave each one of us a white scarf with Buddhist inscriptions. The people of Sikkim consider that to be holy(It's believed that whoever gets that, he or she can achieve anything in life)😊. They give those to delegates as a mark of respect and love. We were extremely honored and at the same time blown away by this gesture.

We thanked him and his family for being such wonderful hosts and left with the hope of coming back once again.

Such Love and respect. Asset for a lifetime.

Photo of Dzongu, North Sikkim - The Bridge to the Mayal Country by Sayan Mitra

Must say Dzongu is not the ideal destination for people who have the mindset of doing a whole of sightseeing, doing something happening. Even our chauffeur complained that the place was boring and if we were there to shoot some horror movie. One of the locals even said he had no clue why we were going to Dzongu. You now know why!

It's a place which is totally for people who are in love with nature. And Lingthem is a village lost in time. Come here for a couple of days or maybe some more if you plan some nearby treks and experience heaven in the mountains.
Indeed the bridge to the 'Mayal Country'.

Some Important Facts:

There are two routes.

Siliguri - Singtam - Mangan - Dzongu
Siliguri - Gangtok - Mangan - Dzongu

The first one is less time consuming but the second one is quite scenic. This I have heard but since I took the first one, so I can't guarantee about the second.

Contacts:

Lingthem Lyang Homestay
Sangdup Lepcha
+919593781926

Dilip Bhai for the Cab
+917584928183

Adios! More stories to come.

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