This film is a journey to the Himalayas,Goecha La trek. The film portraits the journey of George Thengummoottil from Kolkatta to Yuksam in Sikkim and his 8 day trek from Yuksam to Goechala Pass via Tshoka,Thangsing and Lamuney.This fantastic trek takes him to an altitude of 5200 Meters above sea level. The film was shot on Canon EOS 500D Camera powered with solar panel. The film gives a 10 minute description on Sikkim the people,life and culture.
Part 1 Introduction
|Written & Directed by : George Joseph Thengummoottil
Travel Arrangements : Dhanaraj Gurung,Red Panda Tours and Travels
Trekking Team : Chew Zi Yi, Joe Kaczmarski
Camera : Lucas Tan Wenjie, George Joseph Thengummoottil
Recording Studio : Crea MEDIA LABS
Graphics : geoshrad IMAGES
Narration : Jelu Jeyaraj
Title Song : Somnad Chetri
Technical Assistance : Rohit A Chelat, Boominahan Saravanan,
Thomas Joseph Thengummoottil
Location Managers : Tula Ram Gurung, Ben Kumar Gurung
Yaks and Logistics : Somnad Chetri
Food: Sn Subba
A journey to the Himalayas, trekking to one of the most, remote and inhospitable places in this world, crossing deep gorges and Holy Mountains.
My name is George, and I am here at Calcutta, at the start of this magical trip, with three of my friends: Lucas, Chew and Joe. We are going to Goche La, a mountain pass, between India and Tibet, at an altitude of five thousand meters, above sea level.
Part 2 Moving To Siliguri
My destination is in Sikkim, a tiny state in the north east corner of India.I start from Kolkotta, cross the towns of Siliguri and Jorethang to reach Yuksam, the trekking hub of Sikkim.
Vast stretch of flat land, nourished by rivers, which originate, from the melting glaciers of the Himalayas.The northern plains, also known as Indo Gangetic plain, spreads over northern India and virtually all of Bangladesh. This fertile plain is named after the Indus, and the Ganges, the twin river systems which drains it.
Indio Gangetic plains support, one of the most populous areas on Earth, being home to nearly one billion people, one seventh of the world's population, on an area of seven hundred thousand square kilometres.
After travelling for more than 15 hours across the plains, I reach Siliguri, a city which was known for its natural beauty.
It is a whole chaos, with horns blasting my ears, traffic jams and crowded streets. Result of India’s growing urban agglomeration.
Siliguri, is the transit point for air, road and rail traffic to the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
Part 3 Moving from Siliguri to Jorethang
The lifeline of Sikkim, Teesta river, roars down the deep gorge.
After two hours of travel on four wheel drive I reach the first town in Sikkim, Jorethang. Jorethang is the hub to west Sikkim. Four wheel drive vehicles connect every nook and corner of Sikkim, from this new multi floor taxi stand.
The vacant streets of the town, gets jam packed during Sundays Markets. These make shift markets on the road sides; sell plenty of varieties of food, vegetables and cosmetics.
Part 4 From Jorethang To Yuksam
From Jorethang, I move to Yuksam, the trekking hub of west Sikkim.
Sikkim is the least populous state in India. Geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas, climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine.The Lepcha people, the original inhabitants of Sikkim, called their homeland Nye-mae-el, or paradise, while the Bhutias call it, Beyul Demazong, or the hidden valley of rice.
Beautiful mountains, and scattered hamlets, never look similar to the rest of India.
After travelling for three hours, I reach the end of road, at Yuksam. This road continues as a trekking trail to the base of Mount Kangchenjunga.
Part 5 People of Yuksam
There are three major ethnic groups in Sikkim, the Lepchas, the Bhutias and the Nepalis. Each of this community has their own language, culture and dance forms.
KINGTSOOM ZAONGBOO CHOO is what Lepchas, the earliest inhabitants of the land call Kangchenjunga. It means bright auspicious forehead peak. Though the origin of leptcha community is not known, it is believed that they came from south east china, crossing Assam and settled below Mount Kangchenajungcha.
They are great worshipers of the Auspicious peak and believes that, one should always respect the mountain and must not climb the pinnacle of a holy mountain.
The first climbers of Kangchenjunga Joe Brown and George Band, who were part of a British expedition, honoured the beliefs of the Lapchas, by stopping a few feet short of the actual summit.
Their worship includes a set of dance, called Chu Faat .
Part 6 Religion of Sikkim
Lepchas were followers of Shamanism;their religious practices involve a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to encounter and interact with the spirit world.
According to the Legend, Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche, visited Sikkim in the 9th century, He introduced Buddhism and foretold the era of monarch.
These monasteries and Gompas, add beauty to this mountainous landscape of Sikkim. The villagers offer pine needles, and burn incense in these traditional Buddhist stupas, a sacred place for making offerings.
When I spin these prayer wheels, prayers of peace are sent across the world. The sculpture of Lord Buddha, and Guru Rinpoche, are kept inside central prayer hall, of Buddhist temple. These monasteries are home to monks, Lamas and Drakpas. “Lama”, in Tibetan, means “superior master”. The ordinary monks are called “Drakpa”
Lamas are considered to be the spokesmen of the deity. In people’s eyes, Lamas are able to act as intermediaries, and interpret the will of the deity.If an ordinary person wishes to become a lama, he has to stay at the monastery to learn sutras. They have to undergo several years of tough training, to be ordinated as lama.
Monks spend most of their time inside the monastery, though a few of them visits the villages
“Hamara raja bhuddist dha. We meditation karne keliye edher jatha hei, our pooja karne keliye udhar dubdhi mem jatha hey”
Part 7 History of Yuksam
Yuksam was the first capital of the Kindgom of Sikkim, established in 1642. The first monarch of Sikkim was Phuntsog Namgyal. He was coroneted at this spot, near Yuksam known as, Throne of Norbugang
Yuksom, literally means the “meeting place of the three learned monks”. Legend says, three monks, who came from Tibet, selected Phuntsog Namgyal as the first King of Sikkim, giving him the title Chogyal, which means “Religious King”.
This little town of Yuksam lives on agriculture and Tourism. Major produce include maize and potatoes. Food pattern is mostly Tibetan, momos and choumins. I love it
Isolated hamlets near Yuksam are connected by narrow trails. Villagers use these trails to carry food, wood and fodder between their villages and farms.These tracks are becoming more and more popular, in-between travellers as trekking trails.
Tourism is an important source of income for Yuksam. Many villagers work as tourist guides, like Mr MB, the guide preferred by tourist coming to Yuksam.
He works as a tourist guide during the tourist season and works in his fields during the off season.
His house was destroyed by the earthquake, which rocked Sikkim in September 2011. He is living in a temporary shed setup near his house and is involved in the construction of a new house. Travellers are sad that MB Is not working as a tourist guide during this season.
Yuksam is the starting point, for most of the west Sikkim treks, the popularly known Dzongri and Goecha La Treks.
Read part 2
Part 2 Speaks about the Trekking to Goecha La