Siddheshwari Dhaamn in Sikkim-: A Dazzling Addition to Our Cultural History and Devotion
by BHIM DAHAL
“History has proved that those who dare to imagine the impossible are the ones who break all human limitations.”
These words by Rhonda Byrne, a renowned philosopher and respected psychologist, have inspired me to write on the Siddheshwari Dhaam of Solophok in South Sikkim. Modern civilisations have emerged from the power of dreams of human beings. We get to learn about ancient civilisations from different structures that our forefathers created. The Ashoka Chakra is a perfect example. It evokes envy and awe. The pyramids, the Indus Valley Civilisation, our Vedic culture, the period of the Mahabharata, the Inca and Mayan civilisations are some of the civilisations on which the modern civilisation is thriving. Wheels made machines possible and science has now made a global village of the world within a hundred years of advancements. All these are a result of the power to dream, and dream big at that.
Before the construction of the Siddheshwari Dhaam, Solophok was a barren valley. No one could have imagined, even in their wildest dreams, that this barren expanse would one day offer them an opportunity to see the Char Dhaams of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Dwarka and Jagannath and Rameshwaram in their own midst. These Dhaams marking the east, west, north and south if India were consecrated by Adi Shankaracharya in the Seventh-Eighth century. The Siddheshwari Char Dhaam of Solophok was consecrated by Reverend Swami Swarupananda Saraswati on 08 November 2011. This has kept the tradition intact and the religious significance of the Char Dhaam has been kept intact at the Solophok complex. Apart from this, the Jyotirlings, as mentioned in ancient scriptures that are present at twelve different locations in India, have also been replicated at the Solophok Char Dhaam premises. A magnificent statue of Lord Shiva has been made on top of the Jyotirlings. The Jyotirlings are: Somnath, Mallikaarjun, Mahakaal, Onkareshwar, Kedarnath, Bhimshankar, Trayambakam, Vidyanath, Nageshwar, Rameshwaram, Ghrishneshwar and Vishneshwar.
Work on the Char Dhaam started on 13 February 2005, and it was inaugurated, as mentioned, on 08 November 2011. Now, within a matter of a few months of its inauguration, Siddheshwari Dhaam has become a major pilgrimage destination. Tourists flock to the Char Dhaam to marvel at the architecture and design, while devotees throng to offer prayers. The number of visitors is increasing by the day.
India is a country of 80 to 90 crore people who have unwavering faith in Hinduism. Lord Shiva is the most worshipped Gods. In Kali Yug, Shiva worship is believed to give instant results. Religion is a very sensitive and emotional issue. In old age we visit Kashi. Some people have the desire to bid goddbye to world in the lap of Kashi Vishwanath along the Ganga. Char Dhaam has become the centre of spirituality and faith for such people. Now, people will place their prayers and make their pledges, and for a few moments lose themselves in the presence of divinity. People will be amazed and happy. They will experience religion, spirituality and faith. They will contemplate on permanence and impermanence. They will wash their sins in their hearts.
This is how I perceive the Char Dhaam. The Vastu techniques used in the temples constructed at Siddheshwari Dhaam have revived our tradition and sense of history. We can feel our heritage here. Char Dhaam has been successful in transcending art, architecture, tourism and pilgrimage. It has given us transcendental contemplation.
For this reason, we must congratulate Pawan Chamling wholeheartedly. We must express our gratitude.
I feel that the people do not contemplate deeply enough on the path of development and growth that Sikkim has charted under his leadership. In 193-94, the Plan Budget of Sikkim was Rs. 120 crore. The erstwhile governments did not do anything to win the name and fame that Sikkim deserved. They just performed routine tasks and duties. There is no need to blame the heads of those governments because not every leader commands the imagination, courage and will power that Pawan Chamling has consistently displayed. As a comparison of his ability to dream big and pull it off, sample this: the Plan Outlay for the entire state was Rs. 120 crore in 1993-94, and within a decade, when work on Char Dhaam began in 2005, the Chamling Government successfully raised Rs. 100 crore for the Char Dhaam project alone. The challenge did not end with arranging the funds alone, because the project demanded much hard work. To reach raw materials to a place like Solophok, arrange labourers, artisans and have the construction meet the Vastu guidelines for such projects was not easy. The Dhaam is spread over a lavish 27 hectares and has been made possible due to sweat and toil of thousand upon thousand man-hours that thousands of labourers poured into it. The proverb, “a tailor’s labour is lost in the coat” holds true here.
It is said that success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. The credit for the successful completion of the Char Dhaam project however has no such complications – it has been possible solely due to the imagination and unwavering commitment of Pawan Chamling.
The Chinese literary figure, Lu Tsun, has said, “In earlier times, the world did not have so many roads and turn. People kept walking and roads started being created.” The Char Dhaam can be considered as a Renaissance of Indian spiritual civilisation. If this comment leads to a counter argument, then this pen is ready for it. Foreign invaders and Mudhal emperors did try to uproot our culture and tradition and force their culture on us whether it was the Somnath Temple which was plundered eleven times by Mohammad Ghazni in the 10th Century or the execution of the Ninth Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadur by Aurangzeb. Our history is blood stained with such incidents. So, if anybody criticises the Char Dhaam, they should first study our history once again.
The value of Char Dhaam does end with its religious aspect. Char Dhaam is for people of all faiths and beliefs. It has become a popular tourist spot. While faith might be a personal issue, art and architecture carry universal appeal and Char Dhaam is a collective wealth of all. There are no two ways about it.
It is necessary to create infrastructure required to support a place like the Char Dhaam. There should be provision for vegetarian snacks at the premises. Char Dhaam is around 5 kms from Namchi. There is a need for taxi fare regulation and if possible for a shuttle bus service. There should be a dialogue between Namchi municipality and hotel owners there for improvements in services for visitors. There should be no delays in such support arrangements.
Let us hope that we can make Char Dhaam better and provide all amenities in and around the Dhaam. There is a history of the construction of the Golden Temple in Amritsar being started by the Fourth Sikh Guru Ramdas in the 13th Century and being completed by the fifth and sixth Sikh Gurus, Guru Arjundev and Guru Hargobing respectively in the 17th Century. Today, the Golden Temple of Armitsar is the most important pilgrimage for Sikhs.
History tells us that Guru Ramdas had to struggle a lot for the construction of the lake in Amritsar. God does not make historical and religious centres; humans have always been the mediums for such undertakings. Noble intentions and dedication are essential to achieve anything significant. Let us hope that the present generation takes care of an asset as grand as the Siddheshwari Char Dhaam and hands it over the future generation as part of their proud heritage.
[The writer is a former Lok Sabha MP and now Media Advisor to Chief Minister Pawan Chamling]