KUNGA TASHI

THE BEAUTIFUL BOUNTIFUL BORDERLAND

The boundary line of Indian and Nepal in East Sikkim cuts through fertile tract covered in dense jungle, dotted with rich farmland. The ecosystem, not surprisingly, is the same on both sides of the border.  Built upon this lush terrain is a long history of agriculture, migration, invasion and trade. As dense as the terrain is, mountain passes and demographic exchanges ran through the mountains through time.  The region and its proximity to large states and empires and its position at the crossroads between them shaped what this land is today. The present boundary of India and Nepal runs over what used to be the political entity of Limbuwan. Integrated in cultural practice and language the Limbu Kingdoms were once a united region. Having been a buffer region between the early modern kingdoms in Nepal and Sikkim this political entity would eventually split and be subsumed under the two. This did not sever older social links but true to the nature of geographies of cultural intersections several influences of religious and social organisation from both ends of Limbuwan merged into the region.

The contemporary boundary definitions are much more rigid than the older states but the modern Limbu identity survives as a trans-national identity subsumed under dominant national cultures. The inter-connectivity in several trans-border marriages is today one of the strongest demarcations of this identity. It is usually preferred though that a marriage be towards the Indian side. The festivals too generate connections across the border as they act as affirmations of the identity and connect people on both sides. What makes these trans-border connections possible to a large extent is the open border policies maintained by India and Nepal. Within this interconnected terrain thus sustains a multiple layers of identity and history.

A work in progress, the first chapter in this story, revolves around the border festival at the No Mans Land  celebrated every year by both the people from Nepal and India.

People from Nepal and Sikkim,India gathered at the No Mans Land to celebrate the Nepali new year. Chewa, IndoNepal border.

People from Nepal and Sikkim,India gathered at the No Mans Land to celebrate the Nepali new year. Chewa, IndoNepal border.

People from Nepal dressed up in their finest attire visits the festival at Chewabhanjyang

People from Nepal dressed up in their finest attire visits the festival at Chewabhanjyang

View of a winding untarred road in Nepal as seen from the No Man's Land at Chewa. Due to the slow advancement of the road work from Sikkim, India. The road to the border has been left incomplete. .

View of a winding untarred road in Nepal as seen from the No Man's Land at Chewa. Due to the slow advancement of the road work from Sikkim, India. The road to the border has been left incomplete. .

A generator that runs the show needs to be hauled across the rough terrain.

A generator that runs the show needs to be hauled across the rough terrain.

People from Nepal and Sikkim,India gathered at the No Mans Land to celebrate the Nepali new year. Chewabhanjyang, IndoNepal border.

People from Nepal and Sikkim,India gathered at the No Mans Land to celebrate the Nepali new year. Chewabhanjyang, IndoNepal border.

The Sahastra Seema Bal, the Indian armed force that regulates this border, have their camp very close to the festival ground. They too join the party on this day.

The Sahastra Seema Bal, the Indian armed force that regulates this border, have their camp very close to the festival ground. They too join the party on this day.

People watching a dance performance at the No Mans Land.

People watching a dance performance at the No Mans Land.

During the Nepali new year, the No Mans Land becomes a space for people from both the countries to connect. Chewabhanjyang, IndoNepal border. Chewabhanjyang usually remains empty the whole year, except for the Indian armed force who remains camped at the border and the few trekkers who come from Sikkim, India to witness the grand Mt.Khangchendzonga range.

During the Nepali new year, the No Mans Land becomes a space for people from both the countries to connect. Chewabhanjyang, IndoNepal border.

Chewabhanjyang usually remains empty the whole year, except for the Indian armed force who remains camped at the border and the few trekkers who come from Sikkim, India to witness the grand Mt.Khangchendzonga range.

Zenna Begha Limbu, a dancer from Jhapa, a town in eastern Nepal, performing a dance.

Zenna Begha Limbu, a dancer from Jhapa, a town in eastern Nepal, performing a dance.

A crowd watching a performance. 

A crowd watching a performance. 

Group of boys from Nepal at the No Mans Land. Chewabhanjyang usually remains empty the whole year, except for the Indian armed force who remains camped at the border and the few trekkers who come from Sikkim, India to witness the grand Mt.Khangchendzonga range.

Group of boys from Nepal at the No Mans Land.

Chewabhanjyang usually remains empty the whole year, except for the Indian armed force who remains camped at the border and the few trekkers who come from Sikkim, India to witness the grand Mt.Khangchendzonga range.

Horses that carry goods that setup the festival are also used to give rides around the region. .

Horses that carry goods that setup the festival are also used to give rides around the region. .

People from Nepal heading back to the villages in Nepal after the festival.

People from Nepal heading back to the villages in Nepal after the festival.

People from Nepal loading their sound equipments which were bought all the way from the village of Chyangthapu in Nepal for the festival.

People from Nepal loading their sound equipments which were bought all the way from the village of Chyangthapu in Nepal for the festival.

A man rests, unable to walk back home to his village in Uttarey, Sikkim. Although the roads from Nepal has reached the border. It takes a difficult hike of about 5 hours to reach from Sikkim.

A man rests, unable to walk back home to his village in Uttarey, Sikkim. Although the roads from Nepal has reached the border. It takes a difficult hike of about 5 hours to reach from Sikkim.

The border pillar at chewabhanjyang, the mundane physical demarcator of grand divisions. It took a hard trek to get to the crossing into Nepal beyond which, extends into the countryside, a half built road. The road was intended to supplement a road down into Uttarey in India. For the villages in Nepal the road was built seeking the coveted connection to the markets in India, a connection that will likely bring wealth. Bureaucratic changes on the Indian side re-routed the plans to build the connecting road to Sandakphu in Darjeeling instead. This change meant the road to chewabhanjyang from chyanthapu was left half built. The road is not motorable but has made trekking to the Indian side much easier. Trekking through this borderland is an insight into several layers of history. Histories that connect, which are built on commonality and histories that segregate through the decisions of nations. Life on the periphery moves on here amidst the mundane ordnances and the negotiations of states. At the intersection of several connectivities seaperated by political history.

The border pillar at chewabhanjyang, the mundane physical demarcator of grand divisions. It took a hard trek to get to the crossing into Nepal beyond which, extends into the countryside, a half built road. The road was intended to supplement a road down into Uttarey in India. For the villages in Nepal the road was built seeking the coveted connection to the markets in India, a connection that will likely bring wealth. Bureaucratic changes on the Indian side re-routed the plans to build the connecting road to Sandakphu in Darjeeling instead. This change meant the road to chewabhanjyang from chyanthapu was left half built. The road is not motorable but has made trekking to the Indian side much easier.
Trekking through this borderland is an insight into several layers of history. Histories that connect, which are built on commonality and histories that segregate through the decisions of nations. Life on the periphery moves on here amidst the mundane ordnances and the negotiations of states. At the intersection of several connectivities seaperated by political history.

  • 1

    People from Nepal and Sikkim,India gathered at the No Mans Land to celebrate the Nepali new year. Chewa, IndoNepal border.

  • 2

    People from Nepal dressed up in their finest attire visits the festival at Chewabhanjyang

  • 3

    View of a winding untarred road in Nepal as seen from the No Man's Land at Chewa. Due to the slow advancement of the road work from Sikkim, India. The road to the border has been left incomplete. .

  • 4

    A generator that runs the show needs to be hauled across the rough terrain.

  • 5

    People from Nepal and Sikkim,India gathered at the No Mans Land to celebrate the Nepali new year. Chewabhanjyang, IndoNepal border.

  • 6

    The Sahastra Seema Bal, the Indian armed force that regulates this border, have their camp very close to the festival ground. They too join the party on this day.

  • 7

    People watching a dance performance at the No Mans Land.

  • 8

    During the Nepali new year, the No Mans Land becomes a space for people from both the countries to connect. Chewabhanjyang, IndoNepal border.

    Chewabhanjyang usually remains empty the whole year, except for the Indian armed force who remains camped at the border and the few trekkers who come from Sikkim, India to witness the grand Mt.Khangchendzonga range.

  • 9

    Zenna Begha Limbu, a dancer from Jhapa, a town in eastern Nepal, performing a dance.

  • 10

    A crowd watching a performance. 

  • 11

    Group of boys from Nepal at the No Mans Land.

    Chewabhanjyang usually remains empty the whole year, except for the Indian armed force who remains camped at the border and the few trekkers who come from Sikkim, India to witness the grand Mt.Khangchendzonga range.

  • 12

    Horses that carry goods that setup the festival are also used to give rides around the region. .

  • 13

    People from Nepal heading back to the villages in Nepal after the festival.

  • 14

    People from Nepal loading their sound equipments which were bought all the way from the village of Chyangthapu in Nepal for the festival.

  • 15

    A man rests, unable to walk back home to his village in Uttarey, Sikkim. Although the roads from Nepal has reached the border. It takes a difficult hike of about 5 hours to reach from Sikkim.

  • 16

    The border pillar at chewabhanjyang, the mundane physical demarcator of grand divisions. It took a hard trek to get to the crossing into Nepal beyond which, extends into the countryside, a half built road. The road was intended to supplement a road down into Uttarey in India. For the villages in Nepal the road was built seeking the coveted connection to the markets in India, a connection that will likely bring wealth. Bureaucratic changes on the Indian side re-routed the plans to build the connecting road to Sandakphu in Darjeeling instead. This change meant the road to chewabhanjyang from chyanthapu was left half built. The road is not motorable but has made trekking to the Indian side much easier.
    Trekking through this borderland is an insight into several layers of history. Histories that connect, which are built on commonality and histories that segregate through the decisions of nations. Life on the periphery moves on here amidst the mundane ordnances and the negotiations of states. At the intersection of several connectivities seaperated by political history.

Built with Berta.me