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Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir sikkim


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Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir or Baba Mandir is located in East Sikkim en route to Tsomgo Lake and the Nathula Pass at a distance of about 60 kilometers from the capital Gangtok. The story of Captain ‘Baba’ Harbhajan Singh is profound on a spiritual and patriotic level. Baba Harbhajan Singh, who hailed from Punjab joined the Indian army and enlisted in Amritsar in the Punjab regiment at the prime age of 22. He was posted in Sikkim on the Indo-China border at a time when tensions from the Sino-Indian War.

In 1968 he was guiding a mule column carrying supplies to an army post from Tukla to Deng Shukla when he fell into a glacier and drowned. His body was found three days after the incident. It is said that ‘Baba’ himself led the search party to his frozen body. Later he started appearing in the soldier's dream and informed him about the whereabouts of his dead body and requested that a shrine be built in his memory. This is how the Baba Mandir came into being. The new Baba Mandir or Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial was constructed in 1982 while the old Baba mandir is located 12 kms away. The old Baba Mandir or ‘Babaji ka Bunker’ is where the ‘samadhi’ of the late army captain lies. This is the bunker where he was originally posted.  If you want to visit the original Baba Mandir, you are required to carry a permit from the nearest checkpoint or you can use the Tsomgo Lake pass which is inclusive of the Baba mandir.

The new Baba mandir is a reconstruction of the ‘samadhi’ of the old one and is located at Kupup Nathang road junction and is in proximity to Memencho Lake. This is a hotspot for both devotees and tourists as it is situated just beside the road and is easily accessible. In the case of the old Baba mandir, one needs to climb up about 50 steps to reach the ‘samadhi’.  The newly constructed shrine has three rooms. The central room is filled with images of gods and ‘gurus’ from Hindu and Sikh religions alongside Baba’s photo. One of the remaining rooms is for Baba’s personal use filled with all the basic amenities like bed, utensils, and his service outfits, which are well maintained on a daily basis. The remaining room is allotted as his office. No prior permission is required to visit the new Baba mandir.

Many Indian soldiers have revealed that in the event of a war between India and China, Baba would warn the Indian soldiers of an impending attack at least three days in advance. During flag meetings between the two nations at Nathu La, the Chinese set a chair aside to honor him.

As per common belief, any army official not maintaining a clean and disciplined attire is punished with a slap by Baba himself. His own attire which hangs in the display need not be cleaned by anyone as it gets cleaned by his own soul. Every year on 11 September, a jeep departs with his personal belongings to the nearest railway station, NJP from where it is then sent by train to the village of Kuka in the Kapurthala District of the Indian state of Punjab. While empty berths on any train of the Indian Railways are invariably allocated to any waitlisted passenger or on a first-come-first-served basis by the coach attendants, a special reservation for the Baba is made. Every year a seat is left empty for the journey to his hometown and three soldiers accompany the Baba to his home. A small sum of money is contributed by soldiers posted in Nathula to be sent to his mother each month and his village still remembers him as a martyr and undertook the initiative to help his family 

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the Shrine is subjective. If you are someone who enjoys cold and snow, then January to March is the best time, as you will be treated to a blanket of snow. But it is extremely cold during this time of the year and it is advisable that the travelers undergo a health check-up and pack warm clothing before embarking on the journey to Baba Mandir. And if you want to grace your eyes to spectacular views of Rhododendrons and Orchids along the way

Timing - 6 am - 8 pm

Entry Fee - No fee

Distance from Gangtok- 60.7km (1hr 30min approx)


 

Places to Visit near Baba Mandir

 

Nathula Pass

 

The Nathu La Pass marks the Indo-China Border in Sikkim. This place has an altitude of 14,140 ft above the mean sea level. Nathula, one of the highest motorable roads in the world, is a mountain pass in the Himalayan peaks that co-joins Sikkim and China. It is a snow-fed pass and looks heavenly all season. You can see the China area and the Bhutan Mountain from this pass. Nathu La is one of the three trading border posts connecting China and India, the other being Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh in Uttarakhand. The rich alpine forest surrounding and the spiraling road leading towards the historic place is an added point that has attracted travelers towards Nathula.

 

Note: Nathula pass remains closed on Monday & Tuesday every week of the month.


 

Tsomgo lake

 

Tsomgo Lake is also known by two names- Tsongmo Lake or Changu Lake is a glacier lake situated at a height of 12400 ft above sea level in East Sikkim. Enveloped by steep snow-capped mountains and resting between a bright green carpet of alpine forests, the charming beauty of Tsomgo Lake is bound to leave you in awe. The lake's mesmerizing scenic allure combined with its legendary significance to the locals definitely makes it a must-visit attraction of Sikkim.

 

This glacial lake is famous for its color-changing waters. Monsoons see a bright aquamarine lake whereas, in the winters, it freezes into a translucent cover of ice. As the summer approaches in mid-May, the edge of this lake is dotted with thousands of blossoming flowers that make the waters a riot of vibrant colors. In the Bhutia language, 'Tso' means lake and 'Mgo' means head and essentially means 'source of the water', holding immense religious and cultural significance to the Bhutia people. Considered a sacred lake by the Sikkimese, Changu Lake is associated with many myths and legends. They say the Buddhist monks used to analyze the color of the lake to forecast the future.

Zuluk (Silk Route) 

Zuluk is a small village which is located at a height of 9400ft on the Lower Himalayas of East Sikkim. This place is relatively a new emerging offbeat tourist destination. Dzuluk being the first village in the whole Silk Route circuit to offer home-stay facilities for tourists has hyped the interest of travelers and it can also be used as a base to explore higher altitude destinations like Nathang Valley, Kupup, and Tsomgo Lake.

Since it is located at a high altitude with extreme climatic conditions, Dzuluk is still hidden from the outer world. It is a virgin destination that you can explore on your feet. There is a place called Ganek, which is situated at an altitude of 10600 ft which is famous for its exquisite view of sunrise.  There is no favorite or best time to visit Dzuluk. There is an alluring charm in each season, winter is severe in Dzuluk with heavy to very heavy snowfall and freezing temperature while summer is wet and foggy. During the summer, Dzuluk and its surrounding hills are covered with thousands of blooming rhododendrons. 

 

Distance from Gangtok: 95.7km (4hrs  approx)  


 

Activities to do near Baba Mandir

 

  1. Yak Safari

Ever imagined doing a mountain safari in the back of a Himalayan Yak. This animal is a long-haired domesticated bovid found throughout the Himalayan region of the Indian Subcontinent. Yak physiology is well adapted to high altitudes, having larger lungs and heart than cattle found at lower altitudes, as well as greater capacity for transporting oxygen through their blood.  A trip on the back of a Yak, moving through the rocky ways in the midst of Sikkim, actually addresses the appreciation of every person. 

This Yak safari will take you on a stroll through the gentle but steep slopes to Tsomgo Lake. This safari will give you a chance to experience the beauty of this region in real form. The Yaks have been domesticated since centuries in Sikkim. In recent years, the animal has been used to create an adventure spirit among people and travelers. Another interesting fact about the Yak is that it is only found in the high altitude region where the low temperature is just ideal to ensemble the requirements of this mammal. It is for sure that once you take this safari, it would really become a memorable part of your trip to Sikkim.

Best time to experience: The best time for Yak Safari in Sikkim is during the summer months (March to June). 

 

  1. Peak Climbing

Sikkim is home to an abundance of majestic high peak mountains that range from 5868 meters to a staggering height of 8585 meters thus making this Northeastern state an ideal place for the adventure of peak climbing. Sikkim shares a part of Mt Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak lures adventurers. Other peaks that equally allure adrenaline junkies to Sikkim include Frey Peak (5,889 meters), the Indian Matterhorn, which offers the opportunity to explore supreme scenic regions like Chaurikhang, Yuksom, and Tshoka; Mt. Tenchenkhang (6,010 meters), known for its stunning views of sacred lakes, snow-capped mountains, and exotic biodiversity; Mt. Jopuno (5,603 meters), the major attraction for the mountaineers/peak climbers; and Mt. Brumkhangse (5,868 meters), which is considered one of the easiest peaks to climb. Apart from these, Sikkim also offers a brilliant opportunity for peak climbing at mountains like Mt. Lama Wangden (5,868 meters), Kabru ( 7,412 meters), and Siniolchu (6,888 meters), which also offer thrill, challenges, and breathtaking views.

Best time to Visit:  The best time for this experience in Sikkim is during the summer months (March to June). 

 

  1. Mountain Biking: 

The rugged and dramatic terrain of the Sikkim Himalayas offers sure and exciting biking trails to adventure lovers. The beauty of the countryside, flora & Fauna & lifestyle of Sikkimese people is a beautiful experience on a bike’s seat as you meander through lush green hills and dales. Many have enjoyed riding their bikes during monsoon on slushy dirt roads. Every time there is different fun and feeling. It is a technical sport so maximum safety precaution with the experienced backup will enhance your biking holiday in Sikkim.

The thrill of riding upon a high altitude range destination while relishing in the picturesque surrounding can be a ride of a lifetime. Mountain biking in Sikkim has become a famous adventure sport and has caught the attention of adventurers from around the globe. Lachen and the surrounding hamlets are dotted with exciting Mountain Biking trails and offer numerous scenic trails for relaxing rides around mountain lakes and through small villages like Tsomgo Lake and Pelling. The mountainous valley of Sikkim offers a huge range of cycling trails, from the steepest and bumpy trails to more casual ones ranging at an altitude of 4000mt to 600mt respectively for the mountain bikers. Mountain Biking in Sikkim lets the adventure traverse through the well-maintained roads of the bustling Gangtok town towards the trails full of gravel in a serene ambiance with the view of the changing landscape to witness the surreal Himalayan beauty.

Best time to experience: The best time for Yak Safari in Sikkim is during the summer months (March to June). 

Biking point: There are various starting points. Starting points will be mentioned in the itinerary according to your stay.

Price: Rs. 1000 - 5000/person depending on the distance & place

 

  1. Helicopter Ride

A helicopter ride in Gangtok is one of the best things to do if you want to experience Gangtok and its beauty. The ride will offer amazing views of the Himalayan ranges and will let you witness majestic mountains, treacherous rivers, expansive valleys, and green forests. The helicopter will give a bird’s eye view of the town and its surroundings.

Come and see the majesty of the Himalayan peaks from close up like never before. Feast your eyes on the grandeur and the sheer size of the great Mount Khangchendzonga, the third highest peak in the world, or check out the symmetrical beauty of Mount Siniolchu, considered by many as the most beautiful peak in the entire Himalayan range, or fly over Gangtok and get a comprehensive view of the layout of the town with its winding roads and many alleys. Special flights are also conducted over West Sikkim and North Sikkim for a bird's eye view of the monasteries and the exotic Valley of Flowers, Yumthang. Besides these mountain flights, you may also opt for the Regular Bagdogra to Gangtok and Gangtok to Bagdogra flights. 

Best time to experience: The best time for Yak Safari in Sikkim is during the summer months (March to June). 

Helipad ground: Burtuk, Gangtok

Distance from Gangtok: 4.2 km (15-20 min)

Price: www.sikkimstdc.com

 

  1. Paragliding

How about flying like a bird and getting the view of the Kanchenjunga Mountains and quaint villages enclosed in verdant greenery? 

This is the only reason why the new adventure sport paragliding is getting trendy in Sikkim. This small state is the home to excellent ridges and sites that will definitely give you an awesome paragliding experience like never before. The gush of strong wind chasing clouds, green fields, snowy mountains, curve roads adds thrill to the activity like never before. 

In Sikkim, you do not require prior training for this paragliding, and this is the best part about it. This is because they are Tandem rides and a professional pilot will accompany you during the activity. Both the passenger and the pilot are in the harness that is attached to the paraglider. And it is the responsibility of the pilot to take care of the gliding as well as the navigation. Thus, you can dive into the spectacular views around without worrying about anything. In 2012, a Paragliding Festival was hosted by Sikkim and it was organized in association with the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation.

There are two types of flying modes in Sikkim- Medium Fly & High Fly

Medium Fly: You will be flying at a height of 1300 to 1400 meters and the duration is 5 to 10 minutes. From the medium-altitude, you will get to witness the Himalayan ranges as well as the capital city of Sikkim, Gangtok.

High Fly: You will be flying at a height of 2200 meters and the duration is 15 to 20 minutes. From the higher altitude, you will be able to witness the Kanchenjunga ranges, snow-covered peaks, and the Tashi viewpoint. Apart from this you also get to savor the view of Gangtok Township.

 

Mode of Reach to Sikkim:

Sikkim Helicopter Service: Bagdogra is also connected with Gangtok by daily helicopter service operated by Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation, and it takes only 20 minutes to reach Gangtok from Bagdogra. The 5-seater helicopter makes traveling to Sikkim easier, along with being an incredible way of witnessing the majestic state, like never before. The passengers on this helicopter are awarded a Certificate of Participation by the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation.

Road: Siliguri is more or less the main gateway to Sikkim. National Highway 31A connects Gangtok to Siliguri. The scenic lush green forests on the banks of river Teesta on one side and the Eastern Himalayan range on the other side make the drive worthwhile. As stated earlier, public vehicles including buses, shared jeeps and auto-rickshaws are available from Siliguri to Gangtok, Kalimpong, Kurseong, etc. at frequent intervals. You can also opt for a private cab from Siliguri to travel further.

 

Railway: Sikkim does not have a proper train network. The nearest major railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) which is about 6-7kms from Siliguri and 130 km from Gangtok. Very few selective trains pass through Siliguri, which is approximately 114 km from Gangtok. Onward journey from Siliguri or New Jalpaiguri railway station is possible by road.

 

Air: The nearest accessible airport to Sikkim is in Bagdogra which is approximately 124 km from Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim. Bagdogra airport has both public and private transport options for the onward journey. 50 meters away from the terminal building, the local taxi stand has both shared and private jeeps for Darjeeling, Siliguri, Gangtok, etc. Further down, around 700-800 m from the taxi stand there is good availability of public buses and shared autos for the same.

 

 

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