LAKES OF THE SACRED LAND DEMOJONG, SIKKIM
© Department of Ecclesiastical Affairs, government of Sikkim.
There are many natural lakes in Sikkim mostly situated in North-West, North-East and in extreme North Sikkim. Most of them are the sources of the tributary streams to the Sikkim’s biggest River Tista (Tashi Drak) and Rangit (Rang-Nyet). Many lakes are considered to be the abodes of various local guardian spirits such as Devas, Yakshas, Nagas, Nymphs and Demons, and many ascribed to numerous Tantric deities. As per Naysol Text , there are
sacred lakes ascribed to various protective Deities. Sacred nomenclatures of the lakes were given mostly by Sikkim’s pioneer lama Latsun Chenpo and his third successor Lama Jigmed Pawo in 17th to 18th century A.D. Due to political demarcation of the land with neighboring countries in the later eras some of the sacred lakes of Dejong are presently fall in Nepal side in west and some of them fall in China Tibet territory in North & North-Eastern side border. Information about the location of lot of the Sacred Lakes with reference to Naysol text was given by Lt. Khenpo D. Dorje of Phensang monastery and Lt Lachen Gomchen Rinpoche of Lachen Monastery, North Sikkim.
Government of Sikkim notified some important sacred spots in 2001, vide Notification
No.70/HOME/2001 dated 20.09.2001, which includes
some of the sacred lakes that identified. But many remained unidentified owing
to their location in inaccessible places or in the unknown places. The precise
names of the most of the lakes that are situated in inaccessible places are
still unknown. Some of them are nicknamed by Yak herders or by the Army
battalions camped in the border areas. It is difficult to identify other sacred
lakes located in the north-eastern border areas with reference to the number 109
sacred lakes recorded in the Naysol Text.
The following are the five important
holy lakes in Sikkim notified by the State Government of Sikkim:
|1. GURUDONGMAR LAKE, NORTH SIKKIM
Guru Dongmar Lake, situated at an elevation of 5,154 m or 17,000 feet, near Mount Khang-Chen Gyao, North Sikkim, is named after the visit of
Guru Padma Sambhava in 8th century A.D, who was a founder of Tibetan Buddhism. This Lake is included in 109 Tshochen or major Lakes of Sikkim as per ‘Nay-sol-Text’.
Guru Padmasambhava is popularly known in Sikkim as “Guru Rinpoche”.
Padmasambhava first came to Guru Dongmar Lake as the word- ‘Dongmar Shap Chakpa’
refers to his first visit to this place. There, he examined an omen in the lake
and found auspicious to enter into the heartland of Demojong (Sikkim). Guru
recognized this Lake as a part of the places of worship of famous Dorje Nyima or
Chhoedten Nyima holy place situated northern border of Sikkim. This lake is a
landmark of northern door to enter into the Hidden Land of Demojong. This
historical fact was confirmed based on the write up given by late Lachen Gomchen
Rinpoche, who was spiritual Head of the Lachen Monastery, North Sikkim.
| According to Rinpoche, this
lake has been clear like sky with almost visible basin since the last 40years. The Rinpoche further said that it grants boon to
any expecting woman. Later,
the colour of the lake gradually became whitish due to defilement by human
interference. The Lake appears smaller from the place where devotees offer
prayer but takes two hours to circumambulate it since its upper portion which is
quite wide is hidden behind the hill.
As per the official record, the Army Sikh regiment deployed at the Indo-China border in North Sikkim constructed a structure called- ‘Dharmasthal’ about the year 1997-98 on the lake shore as a shrine of Guru Nanak as they mistook Guru Padmasambhava to be Guru Nanak a celebrated Saint of the Sikh Faith. This illegal development angered the local Buddhist devotees visiting the site. On constant complaint of the local residents, the government of Sikkim initially constituted a high level Committee for submitting a report about the status of the Lake. In the light of a written document furnished by Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok the Committee submits a report establishing a fact that it was undisputedly a Buddhist Place of Worship and nothing to contradict by Sikh Faiths. Following which the matter was settled amicably between Army personnel and people’s representative of Lachen Monastery followed by handing and taking over on 6th July 2001 in presence of the Government representatives including Sub Divisional Magistrate, Chungthang, North Sikkim. Thereafter, a Chowkidar lama has been appointed by Ecclesiastical Affairs Department for taking care of this lake. Today, this lake
has become one of the most visited places in Northern Sikkim.
In Sikkim, Holy Lakes are revered as abodes the of Gods, Nagas and Yakshas, and whoever seeks blessing with devotion are granted definitely. It is not needed to construct an extra place of worship of one’s faith nearby the lakes for obtaining blessing.
(Notified vide No 70/HOME/2001 dated 20.09.2001)
|3. TSHOMGO LAKE, EAST SIKKIM
Tshomgo Lake is situated on the way to Nathula pass at an elevation of 4,045 meters. The original name of the Lake, as per local gentries of the Pathing area, east Sikkim is “Tanyek Tsho”. According to them a saying goes like this:-
“SHAH BYITHANG TSHO, NUB - TANGYEK TSHO”
‘Shah Byidang Tsho’ means- ‘lake of cow Yak’s plain in East’, which is said to be present bigger lake at Kupup which was nicknamed by the Army as “Elephanta Lake”.
‘Nub Taneyk Tsho’ means-‘Horse-tailed lake in West, which refers to present Tsomgo Lake. the gazetteer of Sikkim it is recorded as "Tanitzo= Tanyektsho, the lake of the horse-tail or the horse hair noose". The present name ‘Tsomgo’ is derived from the word ‘,Tshom-goh’ which means- above the lake, where Yak Herders used to dwell at a place little above the Lake and their address took the name of the lake. The Lake, however known today as “TSOMGO LAKE” and became one of the tourist destinations. The Tsomgo Lake is about 1 km long; oval in shape, 15 meter deep and is considered sacred by the local people. This placid lake remains frozen during the winter months up to mid May during which visitor get an opportunity to experience snowfall.
History: Sikkimese folk-Lore tells the story of how Tsomgo initially at Laten, several kilometers away from the present place, came to form present ‘Tsomgo Lake’. An old women, one night dreamt that the lake at Laten was to shift to Tsomgo and she and her two other herder friends were warned to leave the place as soon as possible. The old lady hastened to inform her friends but they paid no heed. In turn, she hurriedly milked her Dri (female Yak) and poured the milk on the ground, as an auspicious sign to greet the lake and left the place. Just before leaving, she happened to see an old lady with strikingly white hair and of fair complexion that was carding yarn, entered into the ground where immediately after the earth turned into water and thus formed this huge Lake. The two yak herders are believed to be sub-merged in the lake along with their herd of yaks. Soon the old lady's incident spread in nearby village and people talk about the newly formed lake and said that “Coming of a Lake in their area is a good omen and the lady with white hair is a water Nymph who favours Yak Herders". Since then worship of this Lake began and sanctity of the Lake has been maintained by the locals.
(Notified vide No 70/HOME/2001 dated 20.09.2001)