Yuksom Knowledge Guide


Buddhism was introduced to the state from Tibet as early as the 9th century. In Tibet, the struggle for power between the "Yellow hats" and the "Red hats" led to the latter migrating to Sikkim and converting the mild mannered local Lepchas to Buddhism. In the 13th century, relations between Sikkim and Tibet were cemented by a "Brotherhood treaty" signed between the Lepcha chief Thekong Thek and Tibetan prince Khe-Bhumsa at Kavi, in north Sikkim.In 1641, Lama Lutsum Chembo travelled from Tibet to Denjong (meaning hidden country) now known as Sikkim to propagate the Buddhist religion. He was then joined by two other lamas, Sempa Chembo and Rinzing Chembo. The trinity of Lamas came from the Kham district in Tibet. Their primary aim was to perpetuate Tibetan hold on Sikkim and to propagate Buddhism in Sikkim. They assembled from different directions at Norbugang, which later came to be known as Yuksom. The area in the Rathong chu Valley at Narbugong was considered as blessed by the 9th century Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche). In 1642 the Lamas went in pursuit of the fourth person, as the current three lamas represented three directions of North, South and West and Padmasambhava's vision had predicted the requirement for a fourth person from the east. Near present-day Gangtok, they found a man churning milk. He offered them some refreshments and gave them shelter. So impressed were they by his deeds that they realised that he was a chosen one. They also identified Phunstsog Namgyal's ancestral royal links with Tibet and decided that he was the right person to become the temporal and religious head of the region so brought him to Yuksom. They then crowned him at Norbugang near Yuksom as the temporal and religious king of Sikkim, with the title "Chogyal". The crowning took place at Norbugang on a pedestal set in stones, in a pine-covered hill, and he was anointed by sprinkling water from a sacred urn. At that time he was 38 years of age. He was a fifth generation descendant of Guru Tashi, a 13th-century prince from the Mi-nyak House in Kham in Eastern Tibet.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.


Biodiversity festival

As sequel to the above efforts by the local community, a biodiversity festival was held at Yuksom, for one day, the first of its kind to be held in Sikkim (the second festival was held at Chungthong) by KCC, and the Forest Department of Government of Sikkim. The objective of the festival was to create awareness among the people of the villages to conserve cultural and natural heritage. This festival was attended by 200 villagers and also some foreign tourists. In the festival the focus was on pictorial exhibitions of the natural biodiversity setting and cultural heritage of the Rathong Chuu valley, the steps taken to preserve and conserve the biosphere, interest of ecotourism in the valley along the trek route Yuksom Dzongri through the Khangchendzonga National Park, diverse exhibits relating to medicine, paper making, horticulture, Khehceopalri Lake pollution and actions for its preservation, effects of deforestation and need to preserve forest wealth, measures for hill slope stability, energy efficient methods for cooking using local produce, garbage reduction, replacement and reuse, composting with biodegradable wastes, promoting traditional handicrafts and handlooms (carpets, sheep wool blankets, etc.). Puppet shows, music and local dance programmes also formed part of the festival.


The Tibetan Buddhist monastery, Dubdi Monastery, is located in the area and also the smaller Mallu Monastery. Established in 1701, Dubdi Monastery professes to be the oldest monastery in Sikkim and is located at the top of a hill about an hour's walk from Yuksom. It was also known as the Hermit's Cell after its reclusive founder Lhatsun Namkha Jigme.