I have been travelling in India with my wife, Lucy, for the last 3 weeks. Lucy is researching her family history for a book that she is writing about her Lepcha tribal heritage, and pre-independence India. This is her second, but my first trip to West Bengal and Sikkim, and it has been an amazing experience for both of us.
First, we stayed in Kalimpong, where Lucy's father and his siblings attended school after being orphaned. We then travelled further up into the lesser Himalayas to Sikkim, which is a small Indian state bordered by Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal and it is the foothills of the Himalayas. Sikkim requires an additional visa than just the Indian visa, and then, in Gangtok, the Capitol of Sikkim we had to get another visa to allow us into the protected tribal territory, Dzongu. The special part of the trip was visiting Dzongu. We stayed with Tenzing's family as home-stay visitors and spent some days experiencing traditional life on a small family farm. These Lepcha people are the most friendly, honest, cheerful and strongest people I have ever met.
What has moved me most on this trip are the people of India and especially of Sikkim. They are gentle, honest, happy, and innocent - not the best word to use, but I think it best describes a beautiful, magical aspect of humanity. We were very deeply touched by the people and their spirit, qualities which I would love to bring into my own life and relationships with people.
There are going to be wood and tools related posts from my time in India as well as posts about traditional houses and the land, in this blog.
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We stayed in Dzongu which is to the south west of Mangan. This area is under special protection and is a reserve for, primarily, Lepcha people. I tried looking on google maps to pinpoint exactly where we stayed but failed, the roads are not marked in this area and the zoom and definition of the satellite images are very poorly defined.
Kanchenjung is the protector-deity of the Lepchas and their lands, and is the third highest mountain in the world. This is a view of Kangchenjunga from our hotel room in Gangtok.