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Rebdentse: The Grand Ruins

Rebdentse the second capital of Sikkim kingdom near Geyzing
Rebdentse the second capital of Sikkim kingdom near Geyzing
The ruins of Rebdentse still stands tall on a hilltop
The ruins of Rebdentse still stands tall on a hilltop
Small room like compartments at Rebdentse
Small room like compartments at Rebdentse
The Rebdentse Palace was built in the late 17th century
The Rebdentse Palace was built in the late 17th century
Boys exploring the ruins of Rebdentse
Boys exploring the ruins of Rebdentse
View of Rebdentse from Pemayangtse Monastery
View of Rebdentse from Pemayangtse Monastery
Thick forest near Rebdentse
Thick forest near Rebdentse
Ruins of a temple at Rebdentse
Ruins of a temple at Rebdentse
The old Sikkim capital Rebdentse is now surrounded by thick forest
The old Sikkim capital Rebdentse is now surrounded by thick forest

Rebdentse was the second capital of Sikkim kingdom from 1670 to 1814. Perched on a hilltop, it resembled the ruins of Machu Picchu. I was amazed that I had not heard a thing about this place. It was the sweetest surprise on my trip to Sikkim. Reading up on the Lonely Planet guide book the other night, I didn’t expect it to be so grand. As soon as I cast my eyes on, I could not stop thinking of Michu Picchu. This Sikkimese kingdom strikes lots of similarities with the Peruvian kingdom. Both are on mountain peaks hidden mostly to outside view.

One side the mountain is cut into a steep cliff. The ruin also overlooks Pemeyantse Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim. Rebdentse is around 3-4 km from Pelling between Pelling and Geyzing There was no taxi to reach there and strangely there were more foreign tourists than Indians. I’ve always felt that Indians are lazy travelers. Most of us go as far as vehicles can take us. Most Indians don’t have the adventurous streak in them. On the contrary, foreign tourists are adventurous and love hiking and they make the most out of every place they visit. In a car, you swish past and you see too little, on foot, you’ve all the time in the world!

On foot, it is around half an hour to one hour walk from Pelling depending on the pace. It is can be best explored during the early hours, when the sun is still warming up.

The once royal palace of the Sikkim kingdom was destroyed by the invading Nepalese troops and it was never rebuilt. After the defeat, the capital was shifted to Gangtok. There are good reasons for picking this as the capital. It is one of the most picturesque locations and offers great view of the Kanchendzonga mountain ranges and the lower valley beneath. On the day of my visit, clouds kept drifting up from the lower gorges and valleys. They played hide and seek with the sun most of the morning.

I was the first person to reach there that day. I had the whole place to myself and stood there in disbelief. Though that feeling demeaned as I explored more, I wasn’t prepared for that sight. After half an hour, an elderly couple from Mumbai arrived. They had climbed up the stairs to the peak and by the time they reached, the wife was too tired to explore. She sunk into a bench nearby.

The only admirable ruin from that original kingdom is a small labyrinth-like structure, not big enough to be called rooms. There were small repairs happening nearby and the locals were superstitious about the place. One labourer told me that a worker was seriously injured in an accident and the work was stopped because they refused to work. It was after a while that they resumed the work. They believed they had displeased the gods and unsettled old spirits.

Just as I was leaving, a group of boarders led by their wardens arrived for a picnic. Soon, they began to explore and some of them even brought balls and badminton kits and began playing. I caught up with the warden who was a nice fellow. They had come from Rebdentse, for one of their weekend outings, which happened often. As the screaming and ranting of children began to take over, the place came alive and the old world charm that had cast a spell around me faded like the fog that had evaporated into the sky.

 

 

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