Yuksom is a small town in the district of West Sikkim, located at the longitude of 88.2 and latitude of 27.4 with an altitude of 1880 M., 40kms from Geyzing. Yuksom is very calm and peaceful place. A real get-away for those who want to avoid the tourist crowd.
Background: Yuksom was the capital of ancient Sikkim. It was also the origin of the Buddhist civilization in Sikkim. History aside, what makes Yuksom the paradise of Sikkim is its mystifying beauty. Yuksom was always considered a special place on the map of the state. Since the capital city of the state was shifted to a more centrally-located Gangtok, Yuksom lost its importance. Since then, little development has taken place here. The lack of attention is largely due to the distance from the focal point of the state.
Yuksom attracts people primarily because of the serene quality of the ambiance. In fact, the meaning of the word ‘Yuksom’ means the meeting point of the three Lamas. It was here that the three Great Lamas observed the coronation of the first Chogyal, or ‘monarch’, in 1641 AD. There was a coronation throne made of stone. However, with the passage of time and lack of maintenance, it got destroyed. It is said that you can find the footprints of the Latsun Chembo, one of the Great Lamas who observed the coronation, along the Norbugang Chorten.
Things to do and Tourist attractions in Yuksom
Today the village of Yuksom and its surroundings retain many of the attributes that earned it the title of Ney-Pemathang centuries ago. The picturesque hills are covered with thick broad-leaved forests of oak, birch, maple, chestnut, magnolia, rhododendron, silver fir, ash, and alder. A hike into the forests offer scenes of exhilarating natural beauty and diversity that make Sikkim a “biodiversity hot-spot“.
Equally as diverse are the peoples of Yuksom, Bhutia, Lepcha, and various Nepali ethnic peoples reside in scattered villages, practicing centuries old traditions and speaking languages including Nepali, Hindi, English, Bhutia, Lepcha and Limbu.
Forest and Wildlife
The rich forests also harbor abundant wildlife. With the increase in movement of people and the spread of farming settlements, wildlife sighting have become less frequent, yet with careful observation the following animals and birds can be seen within the Park: deer, bear, squirrels, civet cat, wild cat, rabbits, langurs, tahr, goral, Red Panda, mongoose, pheasants, partridges, magpies, and jungle cocks. In addition there are a number of rare and endangered species including the red panda and snow leopard. Tourists are requested to avoid disturbing wildlife and its habitat. A Wildlife Interpretation Centre is located close to the Trekkers Hut.
Dubdi Monastery :
This was constructed in the year 1701. A path up the monastery passes through a small river. There is a forest through which the path goes and this leads to the Gompa which is right in front of Yoksum. There are prayer flags which indicate the place of the monastery. There is a path that goes into a forest and then reaches a Gompa which is in front of the city of Yoksum. This is the oldest Sikkim monastery. The Gompa on top looks as if it is taking care of the monastery. The interiors of the monastery are filled with historical figures. Saints, symbols, old manuscripts are the mainstay as also some religious texts.
Tashi Tenka : When Yuksom was Sikkim’s capital, a royal palace complex known as Tashi Tenka sat on a slight ridge to the south with superb almost 360 degree views. Today barely a stone remains but the views are still superb, to find the site take the small path marked by two crumbling little whitewashed stupas near the village school. The site is less than five minutes walk away through tiny Gupha Dara, a sub-hamlet of around a dozen semi-traditional houses.
Kathok Wodsallin Gompa near Hotel Tashi Gang exudes a wonderful Chinatown kitsch and enshrines a big gilded Padmasambhava statue. Similarly colourful is Ngadhak Changchub Choling, accessed through an ornate gateway opposite Hotel Yangri Gang.
contains a prayer house, chorten and the supposedly original Coronation Throne (Norbu gang). Standing beneath a vast cryptomeria pine it looks something like an ancient Olympic medal podium made of whitewashed stone. Just in front is a spooky footprint fused into the stone. This was supposedly left by one of the crowning lamas: lift the little wooden guard-plank to see it. From murky Kathok Lake, anointing waters were taken for the original coronation.
Kathok Lake :
This small water body is full of scum and is found at the tip of Ghesing. The beauty of the surroundings is something one could only dream of. It is very much as beautiful as the Khecheopalri Lake. One can have a good view of the peaks of the majestic Himalayas from a distance.
The Phamrong waterfall : is situated approximately 9 km from Yuksom. The bridge present nearby this waterfall provides awesome scenery of the Phamrong waterfall.
Trekking In Yuksom : Info
Most of the people who arrive here come in anticipation of making a trek into the Kanchenjunga National Park. The trek to Dzongri and Goecha la, both inside the national park, is one of the most beautiful trekking routes in the entire Himalayans and also one of the most popular.
Permits and Logistics :
Individuals are not allowed to undertake this trek. You’ll need to be accompanied by a guide or atleast a porter. Also trekkers need to register themselves at the Yuksom police station and also pay the permit fee to the forest department (and take an inventory of all your disposable plastic items) before entering the Kanchendzonga national park.
As of 2007, the rates were 300 Rs/day for guides and 150/day for porters. Pack animals cost an additional 150Rs/day. Although these rates might’ve changed in the 4 years since i’ve been on the trek. Trekking gear like sleeping bags (they have nice down filled sleeping bags available), sleeping pads, gloves etc can be rented at the Yuksom market. Your guide or porter can help arrange everything.
For a fully supported trek with a guide, cook, tents, porters etc the cost was around 1500/Rs per person per day. Although all these costs might have changed considerably in the years passed.
This is not a tea house trek. The only restaurant available enroute is at Tshoka (the settlement above Yuksom and the first day’s halt). The chowkidars at the various trekking huts may be able to whip you up something hot or share their Dal Chaawal with you (remember it was about 50Rs a plate) but do not be overly reliant on it. It is better to carry as much food as you can carry, remembering the fact that the load will get lighter as you climb higher.
Recommend carrying lightweight, high energy food items like dry fruits and nuts and a few chunky cheese cubes. Also carry oral rehydration packs like Electral to replenish your salts after a hard day of trekking. The glacial streams are pure and the water should be safe for drinking (especially after Tshoka), carry purifying tables for your peace of mind.
Accommodation in Yuksom
There are trekker’s huts at Bakhim, Tsokha, Dzongri, Kokchuran, Thangsing and Samiti Lake. Most have neither furniture nor mattresses. So one has to bring a mat and good sleeping bag. Huts sometimes get booked out during high trekking season, so some camping might be involved. You or your porter will need to carry supplies, but limited food (and tongba) is available at Dzongri.