Yuksom is a small town located in the West Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim. It is considered to be the starting point of the trek to the famous mountain peak of Mount Khangchendzonga and is therefore an important destination for trekkers and adventure enthusiasts. Yuksom, referred to as the Gateway to Mt. Kangchendzongha, boasts captivating trails that are worth a visit.
Yuksom was established in 1642 AD as the first capital of the Kingdom of Sikkim by Phuntsog Namgyal, who was also the first Chogyal (temporal and religious king) of Sikkim. It is renowned for the “Throne of Norbugang”, the coronation site of the first monarch of Sikkim, as well as the Norbugang Chorten near the Norbugang throne, several monasteries, and a lake. The Chogyal dynasty ruled for 333 years.
Yuksom is surrounded by stunning natural scenery and is home to several monasteries and temples that showcase the rich cultural heritage of the region. It is also a popular destination for those interested in exploring the local flora and fauna, as the area is home to a diverse range of wildlife and vegetation.
Nature lovers may visit the Khangchendzonga National Park, where they can discover exotic animals and birds. While spending time in Yuksom, don’t forget to eat delicious local cuisine and shop for your favourite items in the bustling commercial centres of this beautiful town.
Here are some interesting places in Yuksom that offer a glimpse into both the adventurous and cultural aspects of Sikkim:
1. Coronation Throne Of Norbugang
Norbugang Coronation Throne in Yuksom, Sikkim marks the historic site where the first Chogyal king, Phuntsog Namgyal, was crowned in 1642. A wall-like structure, known as the Norbugang Chorten, was erected to commemorate the event and still stands on the original site. It is believed that treasures were offered by those in attendance and are buried beneath the Norbugang Chorten.
The site includes the seats of the 3 Lamas and the king, a shrine with a large prayer wheel, a mystical pine tree, and the tranquil Kathok Lake, which provided the water for the coronation. Footprints of one of the three Lamas are also imprinted on a rock opposite the king’s throne. The surrounding garden is a rare collection of indigenous trees and plants, and visitors are invited to wander in silence and take in the peaceful atmosphere. It is a popular tourist destination for those interested in learning about the history and culture of Sikkim.
2. Dubdi Monastery
The Dubdi Monastery, also known as the Yuksom Monastery, is a revered Buddhist shrine located near Yuksom in Sikkim. Founded in 1701 during the reign of Chogyal Namgyal, it is considered to be the oldest monastery in Sikkim and holds significant historical importance. The word “Dubdi” translates to “retreat,” and this is reflected in its stunning hilltop location surrounded by lush chestnut forests.
The two-story stone structure is painted with intricate details and stands at an elevation of 2,100 meters. It contains images of divinities, saints, symbols, and manuscripts, as well as statues of the three lamas who played a role in the establishment of Yuksom. The roof is topped with a bell-shaped gilded dome known as “Gyaltshen.” Dubdi is considered a sacred place and was named the Hermit’s Cell after the crowning of Phuntsog Namgyal as the first Chogyal of Sikkim at the Norbugang Yuksom in 1642.
3. Tashiding Monastery
It was founded in 1717 by one of the three Lamas who consecrated the first Chogyal of Sikkim. Belonging to the Nyingmapa order, the monastery features 41 chortens and a main sanctum surrounded by old structures, stupas, and stone plates engraved with holy Buddhist mantras. Visitors can also see the chorten known as ‘Tong-Hwa-rang-Do’, believed to wash away one’s sins with a mere glimpse. The monastery is known for its serene atmosphere and is best visited between March/April and September/October, or during the Bhumchu festival in February/March.
Tashiding Monastery is a significant religious site in Pelling, 25 km from Yuksom. Perched atop a heart-shaped hill, it overlooks the Rathong and Rangit Rivers, with Mount Kanchenjunga as its backdrop. The history of the monastery dates back to 1717, when it was founded by Ngadak Sempa Chembo, one of the three Lamas who consecrated the first Chogyal. Since then, Tashiding Monastery has drawn visitors from all over the world with its divine aura.
4. Kartok Monastery
The Kartok Monastery in the picturesque village of Yuksom is one of three important monasteries in the town, along with Dubdi Monastery and Ngadak Chorling Monastery. The smooth red structure of Kartok Monastery is accented by golden and yellow outlines and traditional Tibetan designs, making it a popular pilgrimage destination for visitors.
Courtesy: Flickr | Creator: dhillan chandramowliThe monastery is surrounded by the stunning Lake Kartok and adorned with colorful prayer flags. The name of the monastery originated from a lama who was instrumental in the coronation of the first ruler of Sikkim. The monastery still preserves its charming history, and visitors can admire the attractive mountain peaks and lush paddy fields around it.
5. Khecheopalri Lake
Khecheopalri Lake is a must-visit destination for all tourists seeking an unforgettable nature experience. This holy lake is surrounded by lush forests, yet its waters remain eerily free of leaves, offering a mesmerizing and captivating view. The Khecheopalri Lake was formed over 3500 years ago by an ancient glacier, making it a unique and fascinating natural wonder. Despite its growing popularity, this lake in West Sikkim remains relatively unknown and is an ideal destination for those looking to escape the crowds.
In addition to its breathtaking beauty, the Khecheopalri Lake is also the site of a yearly religious fair, taking place between March and April. Visitors are asked to remove their footwear before entering the lake and exploring the surrounding greenery.
6. Khangchendzonga National Park
Nestled amidst the majestic peaks of the Himalayas in the northern Indian state of Sikkim, the Khangchendzonga National Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty and diversity. From rolling plains and picturesque valleys to shimmering lakes and awe-inspiring glaciers, the park is home to a breathtaking array of landscapes and ecosystems. It is crowned by Mount Khangchendzonga, the third-highest peak in the world, which rises majestically from the dense forests that cover its slopes.
Rich in both natural and cultural wonders, the Khangchendzonga National Park is steeped in myth and legend. Many of the elements of its landscape – caves, rivers, lakes and more – are objects of reverence and worship among the indigenous people of Sikkim, who have woven their beliefs and traditions into the fabric of Buddhist spiritual life. These sacred myths and practices form an integral part of the unique cultural identity of Sikkim.
7. Tashi Tenka
Nestled in the heart of the Himalayan range in northern India (Sikkim state), Tashi Tenka, was once the royal palace complex that offers breathtaking views from its elevated position on a southward-facing ridge. From here, visitors can take in panoramic vistas of the Rabdentse Monastery to the south left, the picturesque Rathong Valley to the north, and the road to Tashiding with its forested hills in the east. To the west, the stunning Khecheopalri is visible in the distance.
Tashi Tenka is an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful escape, surrounded by Buddhist pilgrimage sites like Dubdi Monastery, Kartok Monastery, and Tashiding Monastery. The historical Norbugang Chorten, which holds the seats of the 3 lamas and the first Chogyal King, is also a popular destination for visitors. For nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, the nearby Khangchendzonga National Park offers impressive wilderness and alpine habitats, making it a top tourist destination.
8. Kathok Lake
Kathok Lake, known as “Kathok Tsho” in the local language, is a picturesque lake located in the western part of Sikkim in Yuksom. It holds a significant place in the history of Buddhism, as it was sanctified by Lama Kathok Kuntu Zangpo, who introduced Buddhism to this region in 1642 A.D. The lake was used for oracular practices and a yearly purification ceremony called “Tru-sol” is performed by lamas to maintain its sanctity.
The crystal clear water and scenic surroundings of the lake, including the mountains, clouds, prayer flags, and lush green trees, make it a popular destination for tourists seeking peace and solitude. The lake’s breathtaking beauty is also a treat for photographers looking to capture stunning photos.
Best Food In Yuksom To Eat
When in Yuksom or any other part of Sikkim, be sure to try Gya Thuk or Thukpa, a soup of noodles with vegetables and meat, and Phagshapa, a popular dish made by stewing pork fat with chilies and garlic.
Best Time To Visit Sikkim
The best time to visit the top attractions in Yuksom is during the summer season from March to June, when temperatures average around 13°C, making for an enjoyable sightseeing experience. Another option for a visit is in September and October.
How To Reach Yuksom?
To reach Yuksom, you can take a jeep or taxi from Siliguri, which is a 5-hour journey. The nearest train station is New Jalpaiguri, from where Yuksom is 150 km away. Alternatively, you can fly and the nearest airport is Bagdogra, located 170 km from Yuksom.