If there was any regret during our Sikkim tour, it was that we didn't spend enough time at Yuksom. This little town in West Sikkim is about 40 kms from Pelling, and is located at the entrance of Kandchendzonga National Park. We spent about half a day here and managed to see all important points here, but our hearts yearned for more. Too bad we had left our things at Pelling, else we would have definitely spent the night here. Because it looked like a place where pastel-colored musicals are filmed. A place where nothing bad can ever happen.
We were not at all surprised when we chanced upon the most ethereal lake possible in this quaint little fairy town. Lake Kathog (also known as Karthok) revealed itself to us suddenly as we crossed a grassy trail after purchasing a trivially priced ticket. It was silent except the rush of winds through the trees and on the grasses. There were a few birds putting up their most melodious performance. Countless goldfish swam around peacefully. This lake is the soul lake of Lha-Tsho of Lama Kathog Kuntu Zangpo, one of the three lamas who conducted the coronation of the first Chogyal or king of Sikkim at Norbugang in the 17th century. When the strings of prayer flags flutter in the winds, sending across thousands of silent prayers to the cosmos, it isn't very difficult to believe that this is where the mortal world and the divine meet.
Besides being ethereally beautiful, Yuksom serves another purpose too. It is the base camp for many treks. One can trek to Tashiding, Dzongri peak, Goecha La, and even to Khecheopalri Lake from here. Though the pretty Yuksom can hardly be a warning, these are some pretty rugged treks and from what we hear, one has to be very used to trekking at high altitudes in order to attempt these treks. We had a small taste of this when we hiked to the View Point at Khecheopalri Lake and to the Dubdi Monastery.
Talking of Dubdi Monastery, this place gave me major health goals. The Monastery was established in 1701 by Chogyar Namgyal, and is closely linked to the coronation. When we visited, the Monastery itself was closed for renovation. However, getting here was an experience in itself. The Monastery lies at the top of a hill, with a steep, paved walk leading up to it through the forest. It takes a normal person about 1 hour to walk up to the Dubdi Monastery from Yuksom, but we had to take a couple of breaks on the way and it took us slightly longer. At the end of the walk, the monastery being closed didn't really bother us, because the lawns were beautiful and there were some really pretty flowers around. We took a round of the lawns and headed back. However, later on we read that there is a 10 minutes walk from the Dubdi Monastery that leads to a meadow with a Panoramic view. We missed that.
We have been talking about the coronation all through this article. Let us give you some details about the event because it is closely linked to the next place we visited. The name "Yuksom" literally means the meeting place of the three learned monks. In 1641, Lama Lutsum Chembo reached Sikkim from Tibet to spread Buddhism. He was soon joined by two other Lamas Sempa Chembo And Rinzing Chempo. They came from three directions North, South, and West. Guru Padmasambhava's vision had predicted a fourth person who would travel from east. They came across a man churning milk near the present-day Gangtok. The man offered them food and shelter. Impressed by the man's kind deed, the Lamas identified him as the chosen one and brought him to Norbugang near Yuksom and crowned him with the title "Chogyal", which means a religious king. The Coronation happened in 1642 on a pedestal set in stone. This Coronation Throne was the last place we visited during our trip to Yuksom. The Coronation Throne is placed in a compound made of stone. There is a temple and a large prayer wheel too in the compound. The place is quiet and serene and has a few benches here and there where you can sit and just be.
We headed back to the Yuksom Bazaar and on the way saw a couple of ducks nonchalantly waddling on the road. With their quacking, they seemed to be deep in conversation. Lush green pastures on both the sides were teeming with birdcalls and little insects. It was heaven if there is one. We reached the Yuksom Bazaar and occupied a table at the Traditional Inn restaurant. We ordered food and watched a swallow dart in and out of the neighboring restaurant. Neither the swallow nor the restaurant owner were perturbed by each other's presence. Reminded me of this song...replace San Pedro with Yuksom and tropical with Himalayan... and enjoy!