Antique Lepcha House at Tashiding Chongrang

The Old Lepcha at Chongrang
Antiques and artifacts have always fascinated me since my childhood which was possibly the rudiments in my unripe infant mind for an advanced historical investigation in my days to come. I have just loved these relics and have always enjoyed their structural designs. They are just awe-inspiring and are the bystanders of the “massive alter” which has utterly changed the very face of a human society. During my Post Graduate  Days in Pune University, I always enjoyed to sit and study at Saniwarwada, the remains of the erstwhile palace of the Peshwas. Though, it was burnt down by the British after their antagonism with the Peshwas, but it still has many features to drag the attention of a history lover. The other such structures where I always wanted to visit in Pune were Vishrantawadi, Aga Khan Palace, Deccan College, and Ferguson College and so on. They have always inspired me to love such remains with a great sense of respect.
There are many such antiques scattered throughout the state of Sikkim, but, our tendency of chirping into the History of Sikkim from the windows of marvellous edifice of Gangtok has compelled such antiques to remain behind the curtail. It is an irony to say that the objects of historical importance are not dragging any attention of any NGOs and authorities. This is a tale of an old Lepcha House, counting its last days, situated at Chongrang at Tashiding in West Sikkim. The present owner of the said Lepcha House is Mr. Tshwang Tashi Lepcha. He has informed us that it was constructed somewhere 140 years before by his great grand father. If we have to believe on his aphorism, the House was constructed in 1871 and bears all the traditional features of a Lepcha House.
Plastic Cover- A temporary measure
The old Lepcha structural design is standing on the huge log pillars on every corners of the foundation. For the further support to the house, stone walls on the two sides are constructed and has left open to serve other village purpose like keeping the ripe crops or may say keeping livestock during rainy season and so on. Above the walls and wooden pillars rooms were separated for the residential purpose. The floor in the upstairs is made up of firewood, which are kept crisscrossing each other. This sort of built-up not only makes a structure strong but also provides warmth to fight against the chilling winters.
The roof of the House
The most interesting part of this house is indeed its roof which is still covered with Siru (a local grass used by Sikkimese peasantry to serve the purpose of covering a house or shed). I still can remember my childhood days when we too had a house which had a roof of Siru and during rains it had considerable leaching. To tie up the said grass with the bamboo piece, the ancient Lepchas had use Choya (a thread made by pilling a bamboo). To give a final touch to the roof, they used Choya in a most synchronising manner so that the grass could remain intact to protect the house from seepage.
Another striking feature of this house is that it was constructed without using a single nail. To keep other beams and woods firmly, they made holes on the huge wooden pillars so that it could remain at the exact place where it was suppose to be. The floor of firewood was pasted by a thick layer of clay that could give them warmth and they could also keep fire burning the whole night during winters.
Mr. Tshewang Tashi Lepcha-the present owner
This old Lepcha House is at the verge of its demise and its owner, Mr. Tshewang Lepcha is unable to maintain it due to his poverty. The stones of its wall are getting away from their places and its roof has got many holes. He has now made a temporary arrangement by covering its roof by a plastic to keep his family members safe from the rain. Likewise, the floor is decaying and to get rid of it the owner is still following traditional method of pasting those patches with clay. This house needs an immediate attention from the concerned authorities or else it will be decayed within a few years. 


Anonymous said...

Rajen ... The report "Lepcha House"
inspired me.Should I come to Sikkim,I will visit the house and admire. The building construction
is unique.