Yuksom is a historical town in Geyzing subdivision of West Sikkim district in the Northeast Indian state of Sikkim. It looks green, charming and even unspoilt, although it is a frequently visited tourist destination in the state of Sikkim. It is located in a peaceful, cozy surrounding covered by high hills and lush green forest. If anyone wants to see “heaven” in Sikkim, then Yuksom is the right place for them. It was the first capital of Sikkim established in 1642 AD by Phuntsog Namgyal who was the first Chogyal (temporal and religious king) of Sikkim. Yuksom is the origin of several enthralling treks into the Himalayas or the magical Kanchenjunga. The once a capital of Sikkim, this hamlet is more known for its pristine beauty and rustic appeal.
The name Yuksom means the meeting place of three Lamas. Situated at an altitude of 1780 mt, the place is famous as the starting place for mountaineering expeditions and treks to higher Kanchenjunga ranges. Yuksom is where there is the Norbugang Chorten near the Norbugang throne, the place Namgyal was crowned and several monasteries and a lake. The dynastic rule of the Chogyals lasted for 333 years. It’s the entry point for Kanchenjungha National Park and thus regularly visited by the trekkers and mountaineers from all around the world. In fact, many people think that the number of Indian visitors are far less than the foreign visitors. Yuksom is famous for its drop-dead gorgeousness and serene ambience. Officially acknowledged as the “Gateway to Kangchendzongha,” Yuksom is consecrated by the presence of majestic snow peaked mountains, monasteries, coronation sites, etc.
A historical hamlet in the west Sikkim was in limelight in the 16th Century A.D. The place has been named so for three monks having come down to Yuksom from Tibet were the ones to have selected of the first “Chogyal or king” Phuntsok Namgyal. The site is marked by the original throne and a footprint on a rock face near the throne, presumably left by Gyalwa Lhatsun Chenpo. Thereafter, the dynastic rule of Chogyals, propagation of the Buddhist religion and building of monasteries and chortens took firm roots in Sikkim. The Namgyal monarchy of 12 kings lasted from 1642 till 1975 (333 years). Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism known as Vajrayana sect was introduced, which ultimately was recognized as the state religion of Sikkim.
Tourist Attraction :
Khecheopalri Lake :
The Khecheopalri Lake is situated at a height of 6000 ft. and is about 28 km from the city of Pelling. It is one of the largest or biggest lakes in Sikkim and a popular tourist places that attract visitors the most. This beautiful lake in Sikkim is revered by Buddhist as well as Hindus and is a sacred water body known to have wish full-filling powers and is considered the holiest lake in Sikkim is located 27 kilometers from Yuksom. The local name for the lake is Sho Dzo Sho, which means “Oh Lady, Sit Here”. The popularly known name of the lake, considering its location is Khecheopalri Lake, ensconced in the midst of the Khechoedpaldri hill, which is also considered a sacred hill. The lake is regarded as one of the sacred lakes of Sikkim and remains hidden in the rich forest cover. While it is believed that Guru Padmasambhava taught 64 yoginis at this pristine lake, it is even believed that the lake is the foot print of goddess Tara – The female Buddha in Vajrayana Buddhism. There is a popular belief that if you pray anything from this lake with pious sole, the holy lake will grant your wish. Every year, a large number of pilgrims come to visit this lake and make wishes around the year.
Tashiding Monastery :
Tashiding Monastery is of huge significance from the religious point of view and is a very important place for Buddhists because according to the legends, the place was visited by the Buddhist master Guru Padmasambhava in 8th century. Amazingly, the area has suffered numerous earthquakes and every time, the monastery is rebuilt and reconstructed with the help of funds from the State government. The gompa hosts the ‘sacred water festival’ every year. On the 14th and 15th day of the Lunar month every year, a ceremony called the Bhumchu ceremony is held at the monastery when the devotees will be blessed with the holy water. The most important festival celebrated in the monastery is ‘Bhumchhu’, a sanctified holy ceremony and attracts large no. of pilgrimages from all around the world. The Monastery which has a stunning view of Mount Kanchenjunga houses Manis or stone plates carved with sacred Buddhist mantras.
Dubdi Monastery :
The Chogyal established the first monastery at Yuksom in Sikkim known as the Dubdi Monastery in 1701, Literal meaning of Dubdi is “the retreat.” It is the oldest monastery in Sikkim and is located atop a hill amidst a beautiful garden, The monastery is also known as the Yuksom Monastery. It is also associated with the history of creation of the state of Sikkim. It is located at a height of 7000 ft above sea level; the place is absolutely worth a visit. The walls of the gompa are painted with lovely images of gods and saints and the place houses a beautiful collection of books, texts and manuscripts. it has an elaborate painted interior area. Images of divinities, saints, other symbols and collection of manuscripts are exhibited in the monastery.
Kartok Monastery :
This amazing monastery is located on the opposite side of Kartok lake, is yet another beautiful monastery in Yuksom. The monastery is named after the Lama who was one of the coronation members of the maiden sovereign of Sikkim. Kartok monastery is part of three important monasteries at Yuksom. Two other important monasteries are: the Dubdi Monastery and the Ngadak Chorling Monastery. Donned in intricate Buddhist architecture and colours, the Monastery offers a glimpse into the Buddhist way of worship.
Norbugang Coronation Throne :
Norbugang Chorten carries a huge historical and religious importance as this was the places where Phuntsog Namgyal was crowned the first Chogyal of Sikkim. This is also the place where the three lamas used to gather to preach Buddhism. The park encloses a prayer hall, a large prayer wheel, the Norbugang Chorten (stupa), and the purported Coronation Throne (Norbugang). The Buddhist prayer flags adorn the entire place and emit a divine feeling into the air. This place is the epitome of Yuksom’s cultural and religious heritage.
Khangchendzonga National Park :
The park has been named after the third highest mountain in the world, Kanchenjunga or Khangchendzonga which forms an impressive background in the park at an imposing 8,586 meters in height. Tourists can spot animals like musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan Tahr, wild dog, sloth bear, civet, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Tibetan Wild Ass, Himalayan Blue Sheep, Serow, Goral and Takin. It is one of the few high altitudeNational parks of India. Recently, it is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Khangchendzonga National Park is amongst the prestigious National park, which is located at high altitude and is gifted with the most significant eco- system in the world. The park is also home to over 500 different species of birds and flora This national park is home to flora and fauna endemic to the Himalayas. There are many hot springs, caves and lakes—all sacred to the locals. The state government has in fact banned scaling of the mountain due to religious sentiments.
How To Reach :
By Air : The nearest airport to Yuksom is Bagdogra which is at around 170 kms from Yuksom.
By Rail : The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) which is about 150km from Yuksam.
By Road : Yuksom is well connected by road through Gayzing and Gangtok. One can reach Yuksom by bus, car of jeep through these places.
ImageCopyright by commons.wikimedia.org
Lachung is a town and hill station in northeast Sikkim, India. It is located in the North Sikkim district near the border with Tibet. Lachung is one of the most exquisite villages in the valleys of North Sikkim. Lachung has multiple reasons to make you fall in love with it! While its location at an enthralling height of 8,610ft and and approximately 125 km from Gangtok makes it a popular snow-destination in Sikkim, its untouched and surreal beauty makes it one of the scenic as well as charming tourist places in Sikkim. The beautiful snow-capped peaks of Lachung attract tourists from all over the world. Lachung is at an elevation of about 9,600 feet (2,900 m) and at the confluence of the lachen and Lachung Rivers, both tributaries of the River Teesta. The word Lachung means “small pass”.
If you are visiting Sikkim and don’t think that you will make it again in a long time to come, then do pursue a visit to Lachung. Because you may not again see such stunning views of snow mountains and rivers anywhere else. “Dr. Joseph Hooker in his ‘Himalayan Journal’ of 1855 mentioned that Lachung and Yumthang are the two most picturesque places in the whole of Sikkim and had even compared them to valleys of Switzerland.”
The Indian Army has a forward base in the town. Before the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950, Lachung was a trading post between Sikkim and Tibet, after which it was closed down. The town’s economy has been boosted by tourism in recent years as the region has been opened up by the Indian government.
Although most come and stay at Lachung to visit Yumthang valley and Zero Point the next day before returning to Gangtok, you should not miss out on the opportunities which Lachung itself offers. Start early in the morning from Gangtok so that you can reach Lachung by 12noon and have enough time to explore the near by area.
Tourist Attraction :
- One of the nice places to visit here is the Lachung Monsatery (or gompa). It has wonderful wall murals and also several ancient statues.
- Tourists use Lachung as the base to travel to Yumthang valley and its surrounding area such as Katao and Yumasamdong.
- You can spend some leisure hours sitting beside the Lachung-chu river, mesmerised by the beauty of the place.
- The local monastery is also a nice place to spend an evening and learn about the local Buddhist culture.
As for the rest of North Sikkim, Lachung can be visited only by booking a package tour through a recognised travel agent. This is because you require special restricted area permit to travel here and the permit is given only to tourists travelling on a package tour. The package includes your travel, accommodation, food and sightseeing.
Best time to visit :
Tourists come from all over the world to visit the town between October and May. One can get snow in Lachung till March/April and in May one can see wild flowers / Rhododendrons. This is when the locals in their full traditional costumes eat, drink and perform many cultural shows. Beginning of December is also a great time as you can see the monks performing mask dance at Lachung monastery.
How to reach :
Nearest Airport is Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri , Bagdogra Airport is connected with rest of India by almost all domestic airlines. The airport is about 128 km away from Lachung. One can easily hire local cabs from Bagdogra to Lachung.
Lachung does not have own Railway station, Nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri. which is approx 127 Kms far from Lachung. You can take Private taxis and Local Buses to Reach at Lanchung.
Lachung has a good road connectivity with nearby destinations. Direct buses are available from New Jalpaiguri and Gangtok, which can be availed to reach Lachung.
Image copyright by trekearth.com, darjeelingtourism.com, holidayiq.com, trekearth.com