If you visit the Himalayas and drive through its wavy roads, you will often find yourself either intrigued or awed. There are a lot of reasons to feel both.
We have grown up hearing stories about how ‘babas’ go to the Himalayas and never return. We have heard stories about the Himalayas are believed to be the gateway to heaven. We often wonder about where exactly in the Himalayas do these babas go to meditate and what happens to them after. Then we hear stories…ghost stories that at first sound unbelievable.
But when you stare at mighty snow mountain with a local telling you the story of a soldier’s ghost patrolling the area, even your rational mind might wonder if it is all true.
This is a folklore – a folklore that has monuments to support it. This is the story of a soldier named Baba Harbhajan Singh.
Singh, who joined the Indian Army in 1966 was posted at the Nathula Pass – near the border between India and China. Like every loyal soldier, Singh served the nation selflessly until one day something very tragic happened to him.
In 1968, when heavy rains caused disastrous floods in the area, Singh left with a mule caravan from the army headquarters at Tukla for a remote outpost, Deng Chukla but never reached. It is known that he fell into the gushing stream and was swept away.
People looked for him – or his body – the search was carried out for a few days but before they could find anything, they had to call off the search due to the harsh weather. This, is not the end of the tale. But a beginning.
A soldier in the same unit as Singh got a dream. The dream had Harbhajan Singh telling the soldier about how he had died and the exact place where his body was buried! Singh went on to say that he will always be a soldier and patrol the area and requested the soldier to construct a Samadhi for him in the area. Like any rational person, the soldier dismissed the dream. It was all but a dream wasn’t it?
But later, when another soldier got the same dream, things became intense. A search party was sent at the spot that Singh had narrated in the dream to the soldiers and people say that his body was really found there!
Singh’s body was cremated and at Chokkya Cho, where his body was found, a Samadhi was created for him. This monument was a three-room home, that had his uniform, shoes and a bed laid out.
According to Wikipedia, ‘The official version of his death is that he was a victim of battle at the 14,500 feet (4,400 m) Nathu La, a mountain pass between Tibet and Sikkim where many battles took place between the Indian Army and the PLA during the 1965 Sino-Indian war. He was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra medal for his bravery and martyrdom on 26 January 1969.’
Soldiers in the area kept getting Singh in their dreams and many even said that they saw a ghost rider who looked like Singh riding in the snow, in the lonely forests. Singh had become a legend – a legend that continues to echo in the Himalayan mountains even today.
Now, this Samadhi is worshipped by people. Lots and lots of people visit the Samadhi every year, believing that Singh’s ghost would protect them. Singh, who was born in Punjab on 30th August, 1946 and died at a very young age of 22 in Sikkim on October 4, 1968, is known as the Hero of Nathula.
According to himalmag.com, ‘Every year on 11 September, a jeep departs with his personal belongings to the nearest railway station, New Jalpaiguri, from where it is then sent by train to the village of Kuka, in the Kapurthala district of the Indian state of Punjab. While empty berths on any train of the Indian Railways are invariably allocated to any waitlisted passenger or on a first-come-first-served basis by the coach attendants, a special reservation for the Baba is made. Every year a seat is left empty for the journey to his hometown and soldiers chaperone the Baba to his home. A small sum of money is contributed by soldiers posted in Nathula to be sent to his mother each month.’
True or not, this tale is surely worth knowing! Mysterious isn’t it?
Share it with your friends – this story is the best one for your next night out.
Preview Photo: monovisions.com