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Yuksam, The first Capital of Sikkim

Yuksam

The first Capital of Sikkim

Also see: Chalamthang and Yuksam, a family tour of South and West Sikkim

In the middle of the 17th century, Lama Lutsum Chembo travelled southwards from Tibet with the mission of establishing a Buddhist monarchy in the hidden country of Denjong (modern-day Sikkim), meaning the valley of rice.

Norbugang 2

Throne of Norbugang, Yuksam, West Sikkim

After a long journey, he reached a place called Norbugang in 1641. There, he met Sempa Chembo and Rinzing Chembo. The three holy men started searching for a monarch to rule the land. They found the right candidate, named Phunstok, near Gangtok. He was the great grandson of legendary Sikkimese hero Guru Tashi.

Yuksam 1

Gateway to the shrine of Yangthang Rinpoche, Yuksum, West Sikkim

Phunstok was rushed to Norbugang. There, on a stone throne, the three Lamas crowned him the King of Sikkim.

He was given the title of Chogyal, meaning the king who rules with righteousness, and was conferred the surname Namgyal.

The place was renamed Yuksum (or Yuksom), meaning the meeting place of the three superior ones. The stone throne on which the coronation took place can still be seen and is known as Throne of Norbugang.

Yuksam is an important tourist destination today. It is the last motorable point for the popular trek to Goechala (via Dzongri) and the base camp of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. The town has more to offer than a lunch point for trekkers and mountaineers.

Yuksam 3

A chirten (stupa) in Yuksum

Today the Throne of Norbugang is a protected monument under the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). Although the throne has a huge importance in the history of Sikkim but it is rather simple.

It basically a stone slabs with four seats at different levels. the top one was meant for Lama Lutsum Chembo, the slightly lower one on the right was for Punstok, the newly-crowned Chogyal of Sikkim, and the two lower seats on the left were for the other two Lamas.

The coronation took place under a pine tree, which exists to this day. Just opposite the throne is a chorten (stupa), which is said to contain water and soil from all over Sikkim.

Norbugang C

Throne of Nrobugang, along with the three lams and the first king, Yuksam, West Sikkim

Although a important tourist spot Yuksam is just a street lined with hotels, homestays and a hand full of cafes and eateries. But one thing that stands out in Yuksam is the office of trekking agencies. These agencies provide every possible logistics starting from tents, stove, fuel and rations along with porters, yaks and mules to carry it.

Dubdi Monastery 6

Trail to Dubdi Monastery

There is also a prayer hall with several gigantic prayer wheels and opposite it are two newly built gateways leading to the shrine of Yangthang Rinpoche.

Yangthang Rinpoche is considered as the incarnation of Lama Lutsum Chembo. The newly built shrine is crowned with a statue of Yangthang Rinpoche.

In order to reach the Throne of Norbugang follow the road towards the starting point of Dzongri – Goechala trek.

Walk or drive past the prayer hall (on right) and the two gates (on left) take a hair pin bend. Just beyond the bend on the right lies the small shrine of Kothok Monastery. Beyond the monastery is a stupa (chorten), located in the centre of the road.

Dubdi Monastery 5

A lama on the Dubdi Monastery trail, Yuksam, West Sikkim

The stupas have directions to the throne and several places in Yuksam, but they are bit confusing.

Follow the road beyond the stupa and soon an ASI sign appears on the left. Take a left turn from the main road and follow a dirt trail leading to the historical coronation site.

Cars can travel all the way to the entrance and an entry fee of Rs 20 is required to visit the shrine.

Fluttering prayer flags welcomes visitors to the Throne of Norbugang, considered by the locals as one of the holiest site of Sikkim. If you are there in the morning you are quiet likely to encounter locals praying at the site and also at the newly constructed adjoining monastery.

Dubdi Monastery 1

Dubdi Monastery, Yaksum, West Sikkim

Each of the four seats of the throne are marked with a photo of the three lamas and the newly crowned king. The ancient pine tree still stands towering above the historic throne.

Dubdi Monastery 3

Dubdi Monastery

The historic stupa (chorten) still stands bang opposite the Throne of Norbugang but has a fresh coat of white paints have rubbed all its grace and elegance.

A rock in front of the throne contains the foot print of Lustum Chembo. Just across the main road is a pond with fluttering multi coloured prayer flags.

Known as Kothok Pokhri it dates back to the day of the first coronation and history says that Phunstok was blessed by the three lamas with the water of this pond.

Apart from the Throne of Norbugang the only other historic site in Yuksam is the Dubdi Monastery. This is also an ASI protected monument and apart from this two the only other ASI monument in Sikkim is the Ruins of Rabdantse (Also see: Walking tour of Pelling). But unlike the Throne of Norbugang the Dubdi Monastery is not approachable by car but is about a hours hike from Yuksam.

Dubdi Monastery 1

A panoramic view of the Dubdi Monastery, Yuksam, West Sikkim

The trail to Dubdi diverts from the hair pin bend and passes in between the Yuksam Primary Health Centre and the Limby Homestay. The trail is well marked and there are several halting sheds.

About an hours hike leads to the 1701 built monastery which according to the ASI is the oldest in Sikkim. (there is a controversy, the Sikkim Tourism claims Sanga Choeling Monastery in Pelling as the oldest).

Dubdi Monastery 2

Dubdi Monastery, Yuksam, West Sikkim

The Dubdi Monastery compound is well maintained and apart from the main monastery there are several other structures. The small and elegant monastery houses some rare and beautiful paintings. The Dubdi Monastey timing 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Note: This trip was part of Chalamthang and Yuksam, a family tour of South and West Sikkim

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