Many interesting places in India have only developed on human beliefs and myths. Later people’s faith and respect turned that place into a unique one. Baba Mandir in Sikkim, India is such that kind of unique place. People believe that Baba Harbhajan Singh died while on duty. And his demise does not stop him to do his duties. Until Harbhajan Singh’s retirement age, the Indian army sent his salary to his family every month. Every year his belongings are sent to his family in Punjab when Army officers are on holiday.

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If you can’t find peace in any place, head to Sikkim. It’s the place where you will truly believe in the goodness of nature and humanity. The state of Sikkim, nestled in the North-Eastern part of India, isn’t exactly on the tourist radar. But it should be. The state has so much to offer to visitors. You will fall short of words to describe its natural beauty.

Changuu Lake (Google Image)

Baba Harbhajan Singh -Hero of Nathula

The temple of Baba Harbhajan Singh of East Sikkim has been built through various mysteries and stories. This temple located at an altitude of 13,123 ft in the conjunction of Nathula Pass and Jelepla Pass is just about 52 km from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim.

Baba Harbhajan Singh is revered as the “Hero of Nathula” by soldiers of the Indian army. He was born to a Sikh family on 30th August 1946 in Punjab, Harbhajan joined the Indian Army at the age of 20. He was posted at the border. On 4th October 1968, while escorting a mule column from his battalion headquarters at Tukla to Deng Chukla, he slipped and fell into a fast-flowing stream and got drowned. The army searched for his body for three days but didn’t found it. It is believed that one of his Sepoy friends was informed in his dream about the exact location of his body with his wish to be cremated there with full military honors. He was accorded the status of a saint(Baba) by the Indian Army. Later a memorial was built at the cremating spot which came to be known as Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir.

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Baba Harbhajan Singh

Beliefs And Myth About Baba Mandir

  • The people of Sikkim and Indian Army officers still believe that even after the death of Baba Harbhajan Singh, his soul is still working in the border areas.
  • Any army official not maintaining a clean and disciplined attire is punished with a slap by Baba himself. This shows how disciplined he was all his life.
  • It is also believed that water kept at the Baba Harbhajan shrine becomes capable of curing ailing persons. Devotees, therefore, leave bottles of water in the name of ailing people and then give this blessed water to the sick.
  • There is a belief in the army that Baba will warn them of an impending attack at least three days in advance.

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In honor Of Baba Harbhajan Singh

  • Every year on 11 September, a jeep departs with his personal belongings to the nearest railway station, New Jalpaiguri, from where it is then sent by train to the village of Kuka, in the Kapurthala district of Punjab. A small sum of money is contributed by soldiers posted in Nathula to be sent to his mother each month.
  • The Army is on high alert when Baba is on leave.
  • During flag meetings between the two nations at Nathu La, even the Chinese Army set a chair aside to honor him.

The End Story

Captain Harbhajan Singh retired from the army a few years back. Indian army hadn’t promoted him from Sepoy to the rank of a captain. One important thing is that his family never received a salary every month from the Indian Army directly. But the soldiers there created a fund in his honour which raises money for his family. In the year 2005, he was scheduled to retire but it postponed till the year 2006 based on his love for the duty.

The Little Yak Master Did Not Give A Damn. I met him near Changu lake Sikkim along with his yak. This little yak master has two giant yaks. Bengali does not need any occasion to visit Digha, Puri, Darjeeling, and Sikkim. It is their right to visit these places, whenever they feel bored or have free time or have little savings to spend on pleasures. At one such moment, I booked my bus ticket for Sikkim in November. I planned to see Changu Lake or Tsomgo Lake, Nathula Pass, and Baba Mandir in a day. In November the lake gets covered with white ice. I felt excited thinking about the beautiful sight.

It was very disappointing to see the usual Changu Lake with no ice cover. Global warming took the pleasure away from me. Some yak owners were roaming around, offering 10 minutes ride for rupees 100 bucks on the animals. Two ladies were selling woolen clothes. Few magi, momo, tea sellers were there too. These all were as usual sights. I had no reason to be there. I bought a hot tea before the bye, and that’s when the doll walked towards the lake.

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The Doll and the Giant in Sikkim

A 4 feet tall, fair, but covered with winter clothes; the doll was dragging a giant yak. He brought it down the lane bound it with a pole and went up again. I thought the cute-looking child must be helping his father in business. But in no time he was back with two more giant yaks, dragging those all alone. My eyes got stuck at him. The kid had something very attractive, called attitude. He did not go near or not even looked at the first yak. The 8/9 years old, a lollipop in his mouth, brought the yaks at the business. With his tiny hands, he bound them tight and went towards the first one and unbound it. Now he started tolling on the road with his giant companion.

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The boy got all my attention. He did not exchange any notes with his co-vendors. Those two ladies tried to initiate a conversation with him but went silent when he did not reply. I wondered how that kid would attract customers. But I was so wrong. A Punjabi couple, who were bargaining with other yak owners, noticed him too.

“I will give you 25 bucks per person for a 10 minutes ride?” The man with an overpowering tone said to the boy and did not wait for his reply. They started planning who would ride which yak. The boy stared at them. As those so-called educated rich people were trying to fool a kid. How disgusting? I felt the heat.

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The art of not giving a damn…

The Yak Master
The Yak Master

“200 bucks for a 10 minutes ride”. While saying that, the boy did not get hyper, neither blinked nor shifted his position. There was no sign of anxiety in his tone. “WHAT? WHY?” said the hyper man, “do you have gem-studded yak?” The boy looked at them calmly while rolling the lollipop in his mouth. His stare was enough to irritate anyone. “That person was asking for 100 bucks. Why are you asking double?” that man shouted in anger.

The kiddo said, “Who had told you that you can pay me 25 rupees?” I felt like appreciating his sense of logic. Bravo! What a reply! The man had no words left. But the boy continued, “if you still want a ride then pay 100 bucks. I am small not the rate.” The wife could not bear the husband’s insult. Now she dragged him in another direction.

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The memorable interaction

I went to him and asked for his name. But he did not reply but did not walk away either, rather kept on looking at me. I asked again more politely, “where do you leave?” Now he pointed above a cliff. “Don’t you feel afraid of these yaks? Are not they big and hard to tackle for your age?” “They listen to me.” His words were so pure and showed his great faith in those animals. I was flattered by him. “Can I click a picture?” I waited for his consent, but again he did not say no nor said yes but kept looking at me. I slowly took out my camera and clicked two pictures. He looked at the camera without shifting his gaze or position. Post clicking a few pictures I went near the yak to adore.

“Do you want a ride? 100 bucks for 10 minutes”. he said. I said, “I don’t ride animals. I don’t like to ride them. But I respect your occupation.” But before I could complete my sentences, he uttered, “50 rupees then for clicking pictures”. I smiled and gave him 50 bucks. That Punjabi couple came back to click a picture from far. The boy said, “give 50, then take a picture”. The man looked at me and said, “why are you spoiling the kid? a picture for 50 rupees? “Really!” I looked at them and smiled. I did not feel like taking or giving any lesson to them. “Take it or leave it”. The boy said and made a hasty sound in his mouth. The yak shrugs his horns aggressively. The couple moved away.

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