Char Dham, Namchi

Kalimpong — Char Dham, Namchi

About Char Dham

The rich Buddhist heritage of Sikkim is well known. But for the Hindus too, the Himalayan state is a revered destination. Growing popularity of Char Dham, spread across an area of seven acres over Solophok hilltop 5km south of Namchi, Char Dham as a popular pilgrimage destination for the Hindus bears that out. Also known as Siddeshwara Dham, it puts in one place replicas of the four leading temples across the country.

Char Dham comprises four sacred pilgrimage sites revered by the Hindus. It stands for ‘four abodes’ of Hindu Gods. While the temples at Badrinath, Dwarka and Puri are the abodes of Lord Vishnu and Lord Jagannath (incarnation of Lord Vishnu), respectively, the temple at Rameswaram is the abode of Lord Shiva. These temples have been replicated at the massive complex atop Solophok.

The temple complex is divided into four parts: A 108ft tall statue of Lord Shiva along with 12 jyotirlingas; replicas of Char Dhams; an 18ft statue of Lord Kirateshwar and a Sai Baba mandir.

The 108ft tall statue of Lord Shiva stands out at Siddeshwara Dham. Devotees of Lord Shiva from all over the country come here in great numbers. The giant statue in sitting posture has been erected at the highest point of the Solophok hilltop. The replicas of the "Dwadash Jyotirlingas" (the twelve jyotirlinga), namely, Somnath, Mallikarjuna, Mahakaleswar, Omkareshwar, Kedarnath, Bhimashankar, Viswanath, Triambakeshwar, Vaidyanath, Nageswar, Rameshwar and Grishneshwar surround the statue of Lord Shiva and the Char Dhams.

A Jyotirlinga or Jyotirling is a devotional object representing Lord Shiva. Jyoti means 'radiance' and lingam the 'mark or sign' of Shiva. Jyotirlinga thus is the radiant sign of the Almighty. Worship of jyotirlinga is of prime importance for the devotees of Lord Shiva. As per belief, worship of Lord Shiva and the jyotirlingas help people in gaining enlightenment.

According to the Hindu belief, one has to visit four dhams to wash away sins and attain moksha (salvation). The four dhams are Jagannath in the east, Dwarka in the west, Rameswaram in the south and Badrinath in the north. But the Solophok hills in Sikkim holds religious significance as it houses the replicas of all four dhams under one roof.

The 18-feet statue of Kirateshwar in the complex is the hunter incarnation of Lord Shiva. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva after losing Sati in Agnikund had gone into seclusion and became a hunter in the forests of Sikkim. This incarnation of Lord Shiva is worshipped by the locals in Sikkim.

History also has it that during the Kurukshetra war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, Arjuna worshipped Lord Shiva in Indrakeel (present Sikkim). While Arjuna was praying, a boar appeared before him which was being hunted by Kirateshwar. The boar was killed by two arrows shot by Arjuna and Kirateshwar simultaneously. A dispute ensued as to who shot the boar first. Lord Shiva, pleased with Arjuna manifested himself and blessed Arjuna for his bravery. It is said that his blessing helped the Pandavas win the war against the Kauravas. It is in the fitness of things that Sikkim’s pilgrimage sites draw large numbers of devotees every year.