TODAY -

The Chola Pass & Chola Range in Sikkim - Why named 'Chola'?

S Balakrishnan *



Behind the 'why' lies great ancient history dating back to 4th century B.C. which links the snow-clad Himalayas to the paddy-clad Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadu. The name 'Chola' is after Tamil Nadu's 'Chola' dynasty Emperor Karikalan. More than 2000 kms separate these two places and it is also going back to more than 2000 years of history, during Lord Buddha's life time.

Unbelievable! But the Chola Range and Chola Pass stand as rock-solid proof for Karikalan's achievements. In Tibetan language, La means Pass. But this is Chola Pass, not Cho La Pass as erroneously written; 'Chola' La, if you like. It is to be noted that the mountain range is called Chola Range, not Cho La range.

Note my point, My Lord! It is said that the single word 'chola' exists neither in North Indian languages, Tibetan nor in Chinese, nor has it any assigned meaning. In fact, 'Chozha' is the right word, not Chola.

The Tamil letter zha (') is a tongue-twister, unique to Tamil. Again, it is actually Tamizh, not the Anglicized Tamil. There is no equivalent alphabet for this (') in English. The alphabet, therefore, rightfully finds a place in the name of the language itself.

According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India Vol. 10, page 327 New edition 1908, earlier edition 1885 - "The Chola Pass is in the Chola Range of Eastern Himalayas, 14,500 ft. above the sea, situated in 27 25' N and 88 49' E, leading from Sikkim State to the Chumbi Valley in Tibet. The Chola range, which is loftier than the Singalila, leaves the main chain at Dongkya Mountain."

In the map of Sikkim (http://dsal.uchicago.edu/reference/gaz_atlas_1909), Chola Pass is clearly marked. Also Jelap La but not the now-famous Natu La pass. Despite my Himalayan efforts I couldn't download this map. Nathu La is itself situated in the Eastern Chola Range.

Most of the passes that help cross Himalayas are closed for almost nine months but Chola Pass is open for six months, says the gazetteer of 1909. Though I spent a pretty long 5 years in Sikkim (1983-88) I never knew this interesting geographical titbit; in fact, Cho La is mentioned in a Sikkim map of a 1979 tourism folder which I got in Madras (now Chennai) in 1983 when the news of my transfer from Cuttack (Orissa / Odisha) reached me.

It is a shame, because I hail from the very same Cauvery delta that formed the core of the Chola Empire. But with separated words Cho La (as in Natu La, Jelep La) in the map, nothing struck me unusual. Sikkim Tourism describes the Chola range as dividing Sikkim from Tibet in the Northeast and Bhutan in the Southeast, while the website of Sikkim Biodiversity Board also says the same point - the Chola range and the Chumbi Valley surround Sikkim on the Bhutan-Tibet side.

According to Maps of India.com there is also a Chola Mu Lake on a plateau on the Indo-Tibetan border, a haven for migratory birds. Chola Pass finds a place as one of the dangerous roads (https://www.dangerousroads.org/asia/china/6384-cho-la.html) - The road, only 44, is extreme with lots of hairpin turns. It is some 5 miles to the north-west of Natula at 4593 m (15069 ft.) height.

Now, let us see about Karikalan, the Chola Emperor, after whom these two are named. The name Karikalan itself is intriguing; it means 'of charred leg'; if the fire was due to an accident or set by his enemies, it is not clear, but it was before he ascended the throne at a very young age. Though young, he was very wise; a judgement given by him in a very peculiar case is cited to his wisdom.

He expanded his empire across the seas and mountains, and also maritime trade. A stone dam constructed by him across Cauvery stands even to this day, after 2000 years and more! The British named it the Grand Anaicut / Dam. The battle of Venni, a landmark, established him as the mighty ruler, defeating Pandya and Chera, the other two Tamil kings, and other chieftains who came to help these two.

Therefore, by all accounts, Karikalan is the most celebrated of the early monarchs of the Tamil kingdom. Kariakalan's northern expedition was around when Lord Buddha attained parinirvana. Avanti, Kosal, Magadh and Vachra (Vajra/Vajji?) were the four northern kingdoms that were then fighting to win over the vast and rich Gangetic plains. Of these, the Magadh and Kosal came to peace with royal marital relationship.

On the other side, Magadh and Vajra were battling for supremacy for as many as 16 years! The kingdom of Avanti, the western gateway of South India, was in cordial relationship with the Chola kingdom for quite a long period. Karikalan's winning war with the Magadh king (Ajatashatru?) must have taken place between 480 and 475 B.C. where he is gifted the 'patti mandap'.

So, the Vajra kingdom extends a warm welcome to him who is invading like a tempest and presents him the royal court symbol of 'Pearl Mandap'. On his return from northern expedition, the friendly Avanti king, glad that the Chola Emperor had defeated Avanti's enemy the Magadh, invites Karikalan to Ujjain, the capital, and presents him the arched toran gateway.

These three were rarest of rare royal gifts, made of gold and gems. There are references in poetries that Karikalan got the toran gateway installed in his capital Uriayur. It was during this expedition that Karikalan had inscribed the Chola dynasty's royal symbol of Tiger in the mighty Himalayas.

He was magnanimous to inscribe the royal symbol of the other two Tamil kings also whom he had defeated earlier - the Chera dynasty's Bow & Arrow and the Pandya's Fish - in the Himalayas. This is mentioned in the Tamil epic 'Silapathikaram' and in poetries of that era.

It is to honour Karikala Chola's expedition up to Vajra Desh and to the Himalayas that the mountain range is named 'Chola Range' and the Pass is called 'Chola Pass' from time immemorial.

Wish an archaeological exploration would be undertaken to discover this historic Himalayan inscription. But in the CBSE syllabus one never finds much about the South, or for that matter anything other than north India which was repeatedly being invaded and ruled by even a slave dynasty.


* S Balakrishnan wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at krishnanbala2004(AT)yahoo(DOT)co(DOT)in
This article was webcasted on February 02 2019.



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • 46th AMWJU Foundation Day : Gallery
  • Machengluang cleared Tamei road
  • Scrapping of Constitution Article, 35 & 370
  • Her Kitchen :: Poem
  • Career in journalism
  • BMSA Freshers' Meet : Thanks Giving
  • Mass Awareness for PMJAY & CMHT
  • Oscar Winning Film - Hugo screening
  • Need for JAC & school to act reasonably
  • Traffic Challans & other challenges
  • Hinduism in Manipur #3
  • Atomacha, Adibo, Leikoiba :: eMing
  • An interaction with Dr. O.K. Singh #2
  • Loneliness :: Poem
  • Let Road Users have their say ..
  • RIST Talk: Binary Recurrence Sequences
  • Racial profiling & criminalization of people
  • ZPO rejects its dissolution
  • 10 houses torched in inter-village dispute
  • Heikru Hidongba #2 : Gallery
  • Attitude to life and family
  • Breaking the glass ceiling
  • 28th NAMA Convention at Chicago
  • Inpui Naga Karing Ngei 2018 : Book
  • Dr. Md. Hamidur Rahaman : AMP Award
  • World Patient Safety Day
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Peace talk reportedly at final stage
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #11
  • 48th Foundation Day of RIMS : Gallery
  • Tarpon: Annual offerings to the dead
  • Licypriya : Climate change in Angola
  • World Ozone Day 2019
  • iKON 4th anniversary : Indian iKONIC
  • Gratitude to Dk. Korungthang
  • Xavier Board Higher Education Conference
  • Confusing announcement: ban on plastics
  • Nongpok Sanjenbam village #1: Gallery
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #4: Gallery
  • Ways of seeing Atiyagi Maya
  • National Lok Adalat at Lamphel Court
  • Take Me Home :: Poem
  • Money Lending business in Nagaland
  • Ambeshori : Gold at Jr Women Natl Boxing
  • Crime against nature deserve punishment
  • Khamba Thoibi Museum #1 : Gallery
  • Time- Is it an illusion? Certainly not
  • Can there really be peace without justice
  • Enrollment Program for PMJAY & CMHT
  • Heavy traffic fines, Harekrishna krishna
  • Jenil Khuman : Heroes of India award
  • Cracking the whip on driving by minors
  • ST demand: Is this a consensus decision..
  • Mukna - indigenous game : Gallery
  • An interaction with Dr. O.K. Singh #1
  • Cry of a Dying River - 92 :: Poem
  • Missing person : Dongminlian at Tirupati
  • Google Earth for ground & aerial survey
  • Mary Kom 1st woman athlete for Vibhushan
  • Delivering a point maturely
  • There should be a toll free grievance cell
  • Hiyang Tanaba @Lamlai #1: Gallery
  • Shrinking safe spaces
  • Child sexual abuse (CSA)
  • Demands: Flag for Naga & ST for Meitei
  • Proud of our scientists & ISRO
  • Daanveer Dutta Karna : 2nd best play
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Significance of Sept 11 to TSE
  • Climate Crisis, People, and the State
  • Ibudhou Marongkhong Haraoba #3: Gallery
  • Conundrum for Manipur govt over CAB
  • Violence against medical fraternity
  • Thongkhatabam Ankita : Governor's Award
  • The Enchantress :: Poem
  • Sunyata & Kenosis: Search of Ultimate Truth
  • Lim divide continues to run deep
  • Of nationalism, patriotism & against nature
  • Heikru Hidongba #1 : Gallery
  • Komrem Students Day @B'lore : Gallery
  • Protective Thinking: Village Nationalist #1
  • Haipou Jadonang: A Social reformer #3
  • Ungracious :: Poem
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • IAS Officer: Hero- Whipping boy- Villain
  • Petition CM to revoke breach order in Edn-S
  • Stand against illegal immigrants
  • September and Hijam Irabot
  • Impact of Christianity among Vaiphei #3
  • Kakching WW II Memorial Run : Gallery
  • Framework Agreement: Divide the state
  • Training Program for Remand Advocates
  • Hunt for North East designers & models
  • Kakching World War II Memorial Run: Report
  • Common Admission Test for IIMs
  • No school bags day for young students
  • GoI backtracking on Framework Agreement
  • Trekking to Dzukou #3 : Gallery
  • English as a Lingua Franca for NE
  • A Good Place to Spend the Night : Poem
  • The idea of Manipur
  • Vacancies at Hadron Techs, Imphal
  • 8th Convocation of Assam Don Bosco held
  • Yogurt based DIY packs to try
  • Big Bang Edge Test
  • Bhabananda was right; it was not only him ..
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #3: Gallery
  • Judicial administration under Bhagyachandra
  • Reena Bhavsar(Pebam ningon): Mrs India
  • Sick Education System should be blamed ...
  • Foundation Day of Physics Dept, MU
  • 26th World Congress of Political Science
  • DBC, Maram bags SBSI National award
  • Regulate pay of Pvt school teachers
  • Chingda Satpi Engellei #1 : eRang
  • The Endurers : a growing tribe
  • Swachh in Manipur
  • Khongoinaba & Kanglei Chanura Kanba
  • The ten in between :: Poem
  • Happy for no reason
  • Convocation: Assam Don Bosco University
  • Sounding the alert at the entry points:
  • Victims of greed
  • Folk Dance @Retreat ceremony #2: Gallery
  • Call for Papers : NACETER 2019 at Aizawl
  • Celebrating Teachers' Day 2019
  • Draft Bill on violence against healthcare
  • From the heart - Transcending fears
  • Her Richness :: Poem
  • Beauty benefits of mint
  • Return of the power struggle
  • 'We Dont, So Shouldnt You' of Mayangs
  • Licypriya: Peace Prize : Gallery
  • Haipou Jadonang: A Social reformer #2
  • Licypriya : World Children Peace Prize
  • Champions at 5th Intl Thang-Ta C'ship
  • International Geological Congress 2020
  • Manipur Tourism: Best cultural Award at TTF
  • 46th AMWJU Foundation Day
  • NDPP leaders called on Nagaland Governor
  • Condemns UP Govt for case against Journo
  • Looking to CBI to deliver: The trust deficit
  • Mockery of the legislation
  • Hinduism in Manipur # 2
  • No mee should disturb peace in Kuki Hills
  • Cry of a Dying River - 91 :: Poem
  • Human service demands need to save river
  • Aromatherapy as career option
  • Khelen Thokchom Media Fellowship
  • Rejoinder to Yanthungo Patton
  • New traffic rules and regulations
  • Myopic leaders and misplaced priorities
  • Over 19 lakhs excluded in Assam NRC
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #2: Gallery
  • Sangai Fest: Maibi Jagoi : Gallery
  • FMGE -Foreign Medical Graduates Exam
  • Referendum in Catalonia
  • Allergen-specific blood test for allergies
  • Better investment climate: Challenge of Govt
  • AMWJU Identity Card
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #10
  • September Calendar for Year 2019 : Tools
  • Freshers Meet/Musical Night at Bangalore
  • Surgery over Healthcare
  • Discussion: Identity at India-Myanmar Border
  • A Euphoric Day Of Freedom :: Poem
  • Remembering the past famine...
  • Stalls- Hathei Phanit, Ukhrul #1: Gallery
  • AMSU & Naga Peace Talk
  • Hypocrisy of 'The Federation Of Haomee'
  • Introspecting renewed Hydropower push #2
  • Enrolment Program for PMJAY & CMHT
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang: Gallery
  • The traffic maze
  • Haipou Jadonang: A Social reformer #1
  • Chinglensana Kangujam : Arjuna Award
  • A Rainy Morning in Summer :: Poem
  • Apple Farmer Mayengbam Shyamchandra
  • The idea of a book club Imphal
  • Condemns act of locals in ICFAI Univ
  • Free medical camp at Ithai Barrage
  • Attacker on Childline must be arrested
  • Computer Courses at IP Infotech
  • Dead men or dead girls tell no tale
  • Going beyond people's expectations
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #1: Gallery
  • Wainu Chara : An indigenous rice breed
  • The sugarcane crisis
  • Positive Teachers-Students relation
  • NDPP & BJP met with Bishop of Nagaland
  • Zero budget natural farming
  • Helmet drive with sweets at CCpur
  • Responsibility matters
  • Manipur Independence Day : Gallery
  • Manipur Heli Service : Gallery
  • Kariang nuna sip eh :: Poem
  • River Rights as legal person
  • Athokpam Right: Kalams Book of Record
  • Be Educated; Be Empowered 0.02 Edition
  • Separate flag and separate Constitution
  • Manipur on a high: Drug menace
  • Impact of Christianity among Vaiphei #2
  • Introspecting renewed Hydropower push #1
  • Jhulon @ Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Climate variability in Phalee khul, Ukhrul
  • What vows does a catholic priest take ?
  • Leg Pain : What to do ?
  • Convention: Defense of Democratic Rights
  • Transit route to manufacturing unit
  • Khangkhui Cave, Ukhrul #5 : Gallery
  • Meeting on Road project at Phalong
  • The road that halted us by earthfall
  • National Entrepreneurship Awards 2019
  • Strategies to adopt for IAS Exam
  • Discussion: Issues of Legal Services
  • Irregularities of Non-NET Fellowship in MU
  • Threatened democracy
  • Nagas await historic day: NSCN (I-M)
  • Hathei Phanit @Ukhrul #1 : Gallery
  • Dr Ak Priyokumar : Golden Achiever Award
  • Lai-Harouba @JNMDA #2 : Gallery
  • Sangai fest: Dance Drama : Gallery
  • N'Jang-Ngi Thangal fest : Gallery
  • Jhulon @ Nabadwip, WB : Gallery
  • School Fagathanshi Mission : Gallery
  • Healthy & active lifestyle: A healthy Manipur
  • Heikat-Leikat [13 Aug] #2 : Gallery
  • Babysana: Student - Aug 10 #2: Gallery
  • Jhulon @ Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #9
  • Patriots' Day @ Pune : Gallery
  • Babysana: State bandh - Aug 9 #2: Gallery
  • Folklore of Hao communities #3
  • Aliyah #2 (Film Scenes) :: eRang
  • Babysana's last rites performed: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #3: Gallery
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
  • SPONSORED ADS