Posted by By at 29 September, at 22 : 58 PM Print



By M.PadmanabhaReddy

It is said thatIndiais not a country but a continent.  People with different cultures, languages, food habits, and customs live (peacefully) here.  North East, with many diversified customs and tribal sects, is an interesting place to see.  To explore this mystical part ofIndiawe six friends, myself, N. Manohar Rao (retired forester), Venkata Ramaiah (retired Chief Engineer), Bhaskar Rao, M.D. (soft soleIndia).  Dr.Madan Mohan (U.S.A.) and Venkata Raju, we all started fromHyderabadfor 12 days tour of North East.  Mr. Venkata Ramaiah who worked for long time in North East took lot of pains to make out stay comfortable where ever we went.

We started on24th October fromHyderabadby Air to Kolkata, than took connecting flight to Bagdogra and reached there by 2 P.M.  After lunch we moved toDarjeelingby road.  The serpentine road toDarjeelingthrough thick forest was thrilling and the same time a bit painful because of bad condition of the road.  Totally exhausted we reachedDarjeelingby 8 P.M.

The next day 25th morning at 4 A.M. we started to Tiger hills located about 8 K.M. from Darjeeling. There were hundreds of vehicles moving along with us – destination, Tiger hills.  It took nearly an hour to reach Tiger hills.  At 5-20 A.M., Sun started appearing on the eastern horizon and the first ray which touched the ice clad Mt Kanchenjunga hill ranges, the peak was shining like a silver hills.  As the sun raised the total Kanchenjunga was in full view.  In the far background Mount Everest was also visible, thanks to clear sky.

Returning from Tiger Hills, we had breakfast and then set out to Himalayan Mountaineering School (H.M.A.) and Darjeeling zoo located in the same compound in Mall area.  H.M.A. has lot of old photos of Tensing Narke and equipment used by the first Everest conquerors.  From here we proceeded to Mall to purchase Darjeeling green Tea powder – a specialty of Darjeeling.  The Mall was jam packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder and listening to a speech of leader from the dais.  The speaker was forcefully stressing his points in Nepali language to impress the audience gathered there.  Making our way in the crowd we reached a shop selling Darjeeling green tea powder.  The shop has a provision to sell hot tea.  While we were sipping tea I could hear the speaker mentioning Telengana movement.  When he repeated second time I asked some Gurkha youth on the next table about meeting being conducted there.  I was informed that the meeting is a part of separate Gurkhaland movement.  The youth studying in Kolkata, explained that West Bengal Government has totally neglected the Darjeeling.  The Gurkhas are treated as second rate citizens, lack of education facilities, employment, (except tourism) – the people are suffering.  Most of the Tea gardens in Darjeeling hills belong to out siders.  Then I asked “do you know about Telengana movement which your leader is referring to in his speech he smiled and said no.  after having a round of Darjeeling we proceeded to Singtum hydro electricity project.  On the way we halted at a junction where River Rungtha Joins River Tista.  We were at 7,000’ height with deep valleys all-round, road passing through thick forest intermingled with tea gardens made out 6 hours road journey a pleasant experience.  By evening we entered Sikkim state and halted at National Hydro Power Corporation guest house, Singtam.  Next day morning we visited Tista underground power project.  There are about 7 Hydro electricity projects under construction on Tista River; all of them are central government projects.  Incidentally out of 7 Hydro electric projects, three projects are being constructed by contractors from A.P.  Again all the seven projects on Tista river (bordering between West Bengal and Sikkim) costing about 15,000 crores are Central Government schemes.  This is in contrast to A.P. government requesting the Central Government to take up Polavaram Project or Chevella – Pranahita Project as central project and the centre assuring that it is under active consideration (for ever of course) is a sad reflection of our political lobby at Delhi.  I have all appreciation for Bengali lobby in Delhi.  The 33 strong contingent of ruling party M.Ps from A.P. are mostly busy in their personnel works.  In the morning of 26th after visit to underground power house we marched to Gangtok,  capital of Sikkim.  With China on East and North, Nepal on the West, Bengal and Bhutan on the South, Sikkim is strategically located.  Unfortunately our big brother (China) has an evil eye on this beautiful state.  Geographical area of Sikkim is 7096 Sq. K.M. and population is 5.70 Lacs.  It has no rail or air link with rest of India.  Communities of different hues intermingle freely to constitute a homogeneous blend.  The predominant communities are Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalis.  All communities live in perfect harmony sharing each other’s culture, ethos and traditions with the result there is now a Sikkimese culture which is composite of all the three prominent communities.  Most of the people speak Nepali which is also the state language.  It is the harmony of the place that provides justification to the name of the state derived from ‘SUKHIM’ meaning “happy home, a place of peace”.   (Contd..2)

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