TODAY -

Khecheopalri Lake, where birds keep a watch !

S Balakrishnan *



“Patience, Patience!” I told myself repeatedly. We were waiting-which seemed indefinite-on the banks of Khecheopalri Lake for a leaf to float by and fall on the lake surface, only to be picked up immediately by a bird. But no luck; the trees were a bit away from the edge of the lake and it was not autumn either for the wind to carry a falling leaf.

We could not witness the legend come true before our eyes but neither did we notice any leaf on its surface. So we diverted our attention to a group of Nepali devotees performing some Hindu puja/ritual on the lake fringe. The Khecheopalri Lake, I understood, was sacred both for Buddhists and Hindus of Sikkim. Hence washing of legs & hands is prohibited, a board warned; also, feeding of the fish thriving in the Lake.

Khecheopalri Lake is one among the 534 lakes that dot the tiny Himalayan State of Sikkim. The periphery of this lake resembles a foot. Situated in West Sikkim at an altitude of 5938 ft.(1700 m), Khecheopalri covers an area of 11.56 ha. Originally known as Kha-Chot-Palri (meaning the Heaven of Guru Padmasambhava), it is locally called Sho Dzo Sho, which means "Oh Lady, Sit Here"! ‘Kechepuri’ is the colloquial name.

According to a folklore legend related to Sikkim topography, the Khecheopalri is said to represent one of the four plexus (in human anatomy, a network of nerves or vessels), namely the thorax (chest). In Sikkim the lakes are variously called as Chhokha or Tso or Chhona (in Tibetan/Bhutia), Chho (in Lepcha) and Pokhari (in Nepali).

Estimated to have formed 3,500 years ago, Khecheopalri Lake is located in Khecheopalri village, 147 kilometres (91 miles) west of Gangtok. It is 34 kms (21 m) to the northwest of Pelling town, an important tourist town.

The lake is surrounded by Ramam mountain, the catchment area; the valley is also called Ramam valley. A small stream drains the excess water of the Lake round the year. The Lake serves as a pit stop for migratory birds from and to Himalayan areas.

As Khecheopalri Lake is a sacred Lake no other tourism related activity is permitted here. It is safely situated within reserved forest area. It is estimated that up to 10,000 people annually visit this Lake, including devotees from Nepal & Bhutan.

Two legends surround the creation of this Lake – As this Lake got polluted in its earlier location, the presiding Goddess of the Lake, Tara Jetsun Dolma, requested a Lama to lead her to a new place. The Lama carried the water in a pitcher and, as led by Tara, came to this new chosen location. As he poured the water from pitcher into a small hollow, it slowly increased and created a Lake, the new residence of Jetsun Dolma.

Another legend goes likes this – Once this area was a pasture land that later turned into a bushy area with weeds that itched on touching. Once hundreds of conches showered from the sky and water thundered out from below to form a lake. The surrounding hill is said to look like a sitting Tara with one leg folded and another touching the earth.

Back in the 1980s, I was twice very close to Khecheopalri Lake visiting Pemayangtse/Tashiding but could not visit the Lake. I could have walked down the trail from Pelling to Khecheopalri in around 5 hours but I had other plans – the Thulo Thangka & Bumchu festival. So, it was a long wait of 30 years until 2014 when I could at last sprinkle the sacred waters of the Lake on my balding head. We got down from the vehicle and walked down for 15 minutes through the winding sandy trail to the Lake fringe.

A small dormitory of a lama was shrouded in dhoop and cooking steam. Footwear is to be removed here to reach the sacred Lake. Five-coloured Buddhist prayer flags / festoons were fluttering along the way and on the banks of the lake. We noticed heaps of small stones delicately placed one upon another by praying devotees. Religious prayers /inscriptions in bright colours adorned the moss-covered rocks in Tibetan script.

I could, from my earlier Sikkim connection, decipher “Om Mane Padme Hum!” We gently rotated the prayer wheels that lined the corridor leading to the Lake, hoping to attain heaven. How greedy could I be ! The atmosphere was so serene – placid waters throbbing with fish, greenery all around, fluttering prayer flags and pleasant June weather! What more could one expect ! This was heaven, indeed. But we could not rest forever at this heaven.

We had to rush to Tashiding but the cab driver was already sulking, spoiling our mood and refusing to touch Yuksom en route. A few Nepali priests wait there to do rituals or bless you with the traditional tikka – on payment, of course. Well, one thing I must record here – the lack of restroom facility as in most of the tourist/pilgrimage spots. Will the tourism planners think about it, especially Sikkim being a cold place.

The small souvenir shop near the archway to the Lake was stocked with puja items, local handicrafts/handloom items and authentic antiques/curios. We haggled without success and bought just only one unique piece for 500 rupees – a small metal Buddha bound in leather, designed as arm band. I would have loved to loot the shop but my wife’s advice was “Give up desire”! ‘Are we not in the Land of Buddha?’ she reminded me.

A true lake is defined thus – one that has some liquid water round the year. Thus, a high altitude lake which freezes solid all the way down to the bottom during the winter may be disqualified as a lake. A true "lake" must occupy at least 1.0 hectare. Sikkim has the credit of having India’s highest lake - Chholhamu Lake near Donkiala Pass in North Sikkim at 5300 m !

Khecheopalri Lake is believed to be a wish fulfilling lake. What could be my wish ? Nothing but a leisurely revisit to the Lake to witness the legend become true - of birds picking up leaves that float down to the Lake’s surface. Also, a pradakshina of the Lake, muttering all the while “Om, mane padme hum –Om, the Jewel on the Lotus- with a prayer wheel in my right hand. Nothing more, nothing less!


* 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 06 2022.



* 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
  • Save Manipur : Protest [Feb 15] #2 : Gallery
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • Agro forestry for sustainable agriculture
  • Relief materials & interaction at Kangpokpi
  • Exodus from Myanmar justify 'border fencing'
  • Earth Civilization :: Poem
  • Enhancing domestic fish consumption in India
  • Growing call to abrogate SoO pact
  • Acquitting the criminal, penalising the victim
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing #7 :: Book
  • Recipe for a full fledged civil war
  • Health Camp at Santhong Relief Camp
  • Farming- loss-making but MSP is not practical
  • Magic ingredients for radiant & flawless skin
  • First Assam LitArt Festival concludes
  • Silence of the guns, for the moment
  • A brighter side of the conflict
  • Interview with Naorem Roshibina (Wushu)
  • Memo to Chief Minister : The Way Forward
  • Best wishes to all students of classes 10th
  • The Power of Poppy - 20 :: Poem
  • Boost student retention power for board exam
  • Claiming ancestral rights over Thangjing
  • Indeed, no comparison with Manipur violence
  • Radio E-pao :: Contemporary (350+ songs)
  • Arambai Tengol & SFs #4 : Gallery
  • Rising above adversity for excellence
  • 7 facts about Meitei Goddess Nganu Leima
  • 149 experts call to find all TB to stop TB
  • Resilient tourism for vibrant career
  • Non-stop assault on Sugnu : The pattern
  • Nearly 5mn candidates for 60k posts
  • Folktales of Manipur 2.0
  • Nothing to kill or die for
  • The Kutsapo Proclamation
  • Nagas oppose border fencing with Myanmar
  • Great game for peace and security
  • IIT Delhi at Abu Dhabi
  • Restraining armed forces vis- Kuki militants
  • Drawing the battle line for Moreh at last
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #23: Download
  • Aira Thoudam - coveted scholarship in Egypt
  • Condemns violence committed in CCpur
  • Last Smile of our Fallen Comrade : Poem
  • Sachinker ties knot with Raina Rajkumari
  • Complex challenges & calls for resolution
  • Save Manipur : Protest [Feb 15] #1 : Gallery
  • Sonia Nepram at 74th Berlinale, Germany
  • Manipur: Best AIFF Grassroots Award 2024
  • Children struggling tough competition
  • Reliance Foundation partners with NSDC
  • Bigger agenda behind CCpur protest
  • When Frankenstein acts as a law unto itself
  • A Cloud in Trousers : A translation #4
  • Manipur imbroglio and our lessons
  • The Living Song :: Poem
  • Entries : Mumbai International Film Festival
  • MG Motor India's new facility in Silchar
  • Self-funded Rail budget earns profits
  • Points Imphal should lay before Delhi
  • Dissenters not to go down without a fight
  • Art Exhibition @ RKCS Museum #5 : Gallery
  • Article 371 C aggravates ethnic divide
  • Into the lap of nature : Udupi #2
  • Delhi's dance with Meitei-Kuki conundrum
  • 'Vividhata ka Amrit Mahotsav' in Delhi
  • 2024 may pose challenges in 11 States
  • FMR scrapped, border fencing assured
  • Time to take a final call
  • Legacies of the Khamba-Thoibi classics
  • Transforming education in Manipur
  • The Power of Poppy - 19 :: Poem
  • Beauty tip to look awesome- Valentine's Day
  • Towards understanding of human journeys
  • If them then why not the Meiteis ?
  • Ensuring basic rights of conflict children
  • 75th Republic Day @ Kangla #2 : Gallery
  • Bambam Thounaojam - MMA World Champion
  • Distress Relief @ Sugnu [Jan] : Gallery
  • Manipur's struggle for peace amidst tension
  • Hold govts to account for ending tobacco
  • Meghalaya Cancer Conclave 2024
  • Not the time to take political mileage
  • Way off the mark
  • Abnormal population growth of Kuki from 1881
  • May 3 violence :: Poem
  • Bharat-Burma border barbed
  • Importance of STEM careers for girls
  • Development of mental health in school
  • Displaced children in relief camps
  • Is it the end of Kuki-AR honeymoon period ?
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #22: Download
  • Manipur Technology Innovation Hub Startup
  • As Time Ticks Away :: Poem
  • Architecture & design confluence - BAIC
  • UG Scholarships 2023-24 results announced
  • Occupational therapy role in erb's palsy
  • National Voters' Day @ Lamphel : Gallery
  • Into the lap of nature : Udupi #1
  • Stop disrespect for places of worship
  • IBSD & NBRC joined hand for research
  • MedTech Mitra : A facilitation highway uptake
  • First edition of Assam LitArt Festival
  • Weed out the illegal immigrants
  • Behind and beyond the rhetoric
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing #6 :: Book
  • Training on cultivation of mushroom at Tera
  • Workshop: Exploring genomic resources of NE
  • India-Australia Partnership in Education
  • Why a new dawn of development in NE
  • Healthy Hair : keep it healthy
  • Beyond scrapping FMR
  • The letter of WKZIC to ADB
  • A Northeasterner's Reflection on India
  • Feathers of different birds flock together
  • Manipur : 9 months into endless killings
  • Call to make Big Tobacco pay for health
  • Mahotsav : Richness of Northeast India
  • Noting the call from AMCO
  • Not enough to rest assured anyone
  • Resilience in adversity | Kumbi : Gallery
  • Why effective treatments for TB not out
  • Cease the strife :: Poem
  • Balancing mental well-being of students
  • FM Hi debt funds Rs 45 tr budget
  • Submission of admission, apology
  • Unveiling the mask of Kuki MLAs once again
  • Arambai Tengol & SFs [24 Jan] #3 : Gallery
  • Lessons from Manipur on vigilantism
  • Exposure to air pollution can lead to cancer
  • Interim budget: Need comprehensive reforms
  • From exam stress to success
  • Adding more teeth to the silence
  • Still, a far-off land for Mr Prime Minister
  • A Cloud in Trousers : A translation #3
  • Dissecting the strength of Kukis #2
  • Self Defence Training : for school girls
  • Bharat Ratna for the Mandir man
  • Desi remedy for farm sector
  • Noting the words of caution from UNC
  • The best way to settle Thangjing issue
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #21: Download
  • Maharaj Gambhir Singh #2: Gallery
  • To Our Fallen Village Volunteers :: Poem
  • "It's Not My Choice" triumphs in every aspect
  • Jamir congratulates Advani for Bharat Ratna
  • Climate change needs to be taught
  • 75th Republic Day @ Kangla #1 : Gallery
  • Management fest at Assam University
  • Transformation from adulthood to parenthood
  • NEP's vision is to make India competitive
  • 35th Road Safety Campaign in North East
  • Budget - Welfare with Fiscal Discipline
  • Understanding call against lifting FMR
  • Nine months and counting
  • Statue in front of Western Gate, Kangla ?
  • My memories of Imphal from 1941 : Review
  • Auditions: 20th Mega Miss North East
  • Face scrubs for glowing skin
  • Auditions: 13th Mega Mister North East
  • Seaweed: Sea of opportunities
  • Continuing clash: Dialogue the way forward
  • The truth behind the objection
  • Gaan-Ngai at Keishamthong #2 : Gallery
  • Dissecting the strength of Kukis #1
  • Gandhiji's Three Monkeys
  • 8th Northeast Fashion Week concludes
  • The Power of Poppy - 18 :: Poem
  • Career in clean energy for sustainability
  • State's response vis-a-vis Manipur crisis
  • The cries of crisis-hit farmers
  • February Calendar for Year 2024 : Tools
  • Parental support to manage children's stress
  • Stop construction of oil Depot in Kangchup
  • Ramji's consecration may calm us
  • JioAirFiber services to cover entire NE
  • State & war on civilians : Failures
  • Trying to stay relevant
  • Protests attack @ Moreh [18 Jan] #2: Gallery
  • Seeking solutions, not scapegoats: Response
  • Gaan-Ngai celebration at Delhi
  • Citizens Action for Manipur : Launch
  • Support & Distress Relief at Sugnu
  • Bijou Thaangjam announces Film with Yogesh
  • Redefining matrimony: Prioritizing character
  • Digital Dentistry launched in Guwahati
  • Demand for ST tag: Let authority decide
  • A 'silly' option to end crisis
  • Handloom- loom other than Powerloom #4
  • Support of 8 murdered civilians : Gallery
  • Rs 6.48 lakh to families of 8 murdered civilians
  • Hiring: Hostel Wardens at SAS Manipur
  • Indo-Naga Talks (From 2012) :: Timeline
  • Clarion call to Hon'ble CM
  • Blame on State forces: Propaganda warfare
  • The declarations of ITLF
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #20: Download
  • Release of Annual Calendar 2024 at Pune
  • Machihan Sasa honoured with Padma Shri
  • Painting : World Cervical Cancer Month
  • Where Do We Stand Now? :: Poem
  • Scope as Asst Enforcement Officer
  • Gaan-Ngai at Keishamthong #1 : Gallery
  • Relief Service @ 16 relief camps : Gallery
  • Lan Nangda Loiroba ! A musing
  • 75th Republic Day at Lamphel Court
  • Manipuri Dance at Republic Day at Chennai
  • Transforming education, building our future
  • Arambai Tengol & SFs [24 Jan] #2 : Gallery
  • Journey of a TB survivor
  • Kangla Congregation & Resolutions endorsed
  • Old age always 15 winters away !
  • 4th North East Foodtech starts
  • Already 25 days into 2024 : Silence continues
  • Listen to the cries of conflict-hit people
  • Arambai Tengol & SFs [24 Jan] #1 : Gallery
  • Arjun Tapas- A classic tourist attraction
  • 13th Mega Mister North East 2024
  • The Power of Poppy - 17 :: Poem
  • Career & job scope in event management
  • PM JANMAN's pioneering efforts for tribes
  • The Kangla meeting
  • Needed steps for normalcy to return
  • Protests attack @ Moreh [17 Jan] #2 : Gallery
  • Final Photo Electoral Rolls for 2024
  • Respect Netaji through deeds
  • "Women is Power" Calendar 2024 unveiled
  • Early Detection Program at Thongju
  • Teacher resource repository
  • Heavy security bandobast ! Indifferent Delhi
  • The resolve of 35 legislators
  • A Cloud in Trousers : A translation #2
  • Gaan-Ngai : Read all about it
  • Alarm bells: Antibiotic abuse
  • Foundation of artificial intelligence
  • Nature - The mother
  • Powerful statement from CM : Partisan CF
  • Feigning sick to seek medical asylum
  • Protests attack @ Moreh [18 Jan] #1: Gallery
  • Guard of honor - W Somorjit : Gallery
  • Protests attack @ Moreh [17 Jan] #1 : Gallery
  • Aribam Syam's masterpiece, Ishanou : Gallery
  • A Tribute to Dr Adhikarimayum Surjalal
  • 13 martyrs brought to JNIMS : Gallery
  • Mangani Leihul of 13 martyrs #2 : Gallery
  • The Listener: Nagaland 2023 : Download
  • Oinam Chaoba Devi: Sepak Takraw : Gallery
  • Ayekpam Maipak (Sepak Takraw) : Gallery
  • Shanglakpam Nilakanta (Hockey) : Gallery
  • List of Kings of Manipur: 33 - 1984 AD