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HIMALAYAN REVIEW

Sunday, Aug 02, 2020 13:15 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Aug 02, 2020 07:43 [IST]

HIMALAYAN REVIEW

Revisiting Dalapchand

Shital Pradhan
It may sound strange, the famed Lampokhari better known as Aritar Lake is not at Aritar but is found within the boundary of Dalapchand.  I, too, like many was unknown of this fact until during my two years stay at Dalapchand SS. I had spent two best years of my life at Dalapchand, a picturesque village, few kilometres from the old settlement of Rongli. Today, more popular for his agricultural-floral beauty, Lampokhari festival and helipad; this now-silent village is wrapped with historic importance in context with Sikkim’s golden past.
I came across people who told me about the stories of this place that was followed from one generation to another. These stories, thou sometimes hard to believe are nevertheless interesting to read. I believe such stories gave birth to an appeal of Dalapchand that is today visited for its mesmerizing and unparalleled beauty.
Dalapchand originally called Do-le-che means flattened rock as old people recount. This little known village was a major mule route to Tibet started during the British Expedition 1888 till Indo-China conflict in the early 60s. Today more than five decades after the closing of the mule driven trade along with the development of better transportation facilities those mule routes at Dalapchand and surrounding Aritar are now scattered in patches. Those routes are now left with wild grasses and old memories.
Gadha-taar is one such place below Mandir Line, Dalapchand which still holds its name from its long-drawn-out history. It is an open field where sports activities of the locality are occasionally held off lately. Old folks talks about mules being kept to rest at this open field few decades back. Similarly to the place where Lampokhari Festival is held annually, there used to be a grass go-down that stored grasses for the mules during the trading season. Often I have heard, people at that place would enjoy their late night staying with dance and drinks then.
Dalapchand must be a place of importance to the British towards the latter 1880s where it finds its name printed in a map of Sikkim in 1888, the name mentioned is ‘Dolepchen’ (Paget, William Henry (1907); Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India).  I have found another instance where during the Sikkim Expedition 1888, a sketch had been printed on a book (Lieutenant C. J. Markham (1890); Report On The Sikhim Expedition) of Lingtu (now Lungthung) fort that was earlier occupied by the Tibetans. The British had pushed back the Tibetans beyond Jalepla.
It is interesting to note that Dipok Dey, well-known postage stamp designer from Kolkata in his article on Sikkim Postal History mentioned, it was the aftermath of the British Expedition 1888 that laid the foundation of the Postal History of Sikkim. The year 1888 saw the British Expedition Force driving out the Tibetan forces beyond the Jalepla that led to the permanent stationing of the military escort at Gangtok. Thus, it was finally that a Post & Telegraph Office was set up in Gangtok.
With the advance of troops, a Post Office was opened at Dulapchin (now Dalapchand) that was later removed to Ranglichu (now Rongli). At the same time, other Post Offices were also opened at Gnatong, Sedonchin, Gangtok, Rhenock Bazaar and Pakyong.

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Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi