CHUNG TONG, a small village on the bank of the River Teestā in Sikkim, 168 km north of the nearest railhead, Silīguṛī, has recently been discovered to have a connection with early Sikh history. Local tradition there refers to the visit of Gurū Nānak (1469-1539) to the place during his third udāsī or preaching tour. Although the Janam Sākhīs do not mention Tibet specifically, the mention of Gurū Nānak Rimpoche (lit. the great one) in Tibetan literature points to the Gurū's travel through Tibet, and it is likely that he passed through Chung Tong on his way back to India. According to tradition, there was a severe famine in the area when the Great One arrived there. He sat on a stone mount near the Teestā whereupon the imprints of his feet are still shown. The grateful villagers raised a Lhā-Khāṅg (shrine) in memory of Gurū Nānak, who it is said had prayed for them and presented them with a ripe crop of grain ready to be harvested. Along with other icons, a picture of the Gurū is placed in the shrine. People light butter lamps in front of it. They celebrate the birth anniversary of Gurū Nānak along with that of Gurū Padma Sambhava, the eighth-century teacher, who preached Buddhism in Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim.

T. S. Rājū