Yuksom is a small village in Sikkim it serves as the starting point of the Dzongri - Goechala Trek. The 8 - 9 day trek is the most popular in Sikkim and leads to the base of the third highest mountain in the world, Kangchenjunga. It is said that it was the first capital of Sikkim. It is very calm and peaceful, a real get-away for those who want to avoid the tourist crowd.
Yuksom means “meeting place of the three learned monks”. According to the legend, three monks from Tibet selected Phuntsog Namgyal as the first King of Sikkim and gave him the title Chogyal, meaning “religious King” or “the king who rules with righteousness”. Yuksom is part of Demazon (valley of rice), the sacred landscape consisting of four religious sites which have been blessed by Guru Padmasambhava and which are considered to be the four plexuses of the human body, in which Yuksom represents the 'third eye'.
By jeep or taxi
Reach here in 5 hours from Geyzing using shared or private jeeps. There are no buses to Yuksom, there are taxis to Yuksom from Geyzing (₹70), Tashiding (₹30), Pelling (₹60) and Gangtok (₹140). It might be difficult to find shared jeeps after 1PM.
The nearest railway station is New Jalpaiguri (NJP) which is about 150 km from Yuksom. From NJP, one could book a taxi to Yuksom for ₹2000, in 2009. Be careful to leave NJP by 11AM as it takes around 6-7 hours to reach Yuksom via Jorethang. The road to Yuksom is poorly lit and it is not advisable to travel at night.
The nearest airport is in Bagdogra, 12 km west of Siliguri and about 170 km from Yuksom.
It is a very small village so getting around is on foot.
Yuksom is the base camp for many treks in Sikkim. One can trek to Tashiding/Dzongri peak/Goecha La from here. You can also trek to Kachupuri lake from Yuksom. Its a relatively tough steep trek (10 km) if you not a high altitude trekker. There are no shared jeeps to/from Kachupuri lake, but it might be possible to join a tour jeep for this journey.
It is a very beautiful place. It is surrounded by majestic mountain peaks (some of them are covered with snow throughout the year). There is a village Buddhist temple where prayers happen every evening at dusk, a must to experience. The place is so beautiful that you can just be here and relax and gaze at the nature for one whole week and you will not know when the week was over because time would fly by.
- 1 Throne of Norbugang. Yuksom literally means the meeting place of three learned men. Lama Lutsum Chembo meet Sempa Chembo and Rinzing Chembo in Yuksom in 1641. They crowned Phunstok as the first king of Sikkim. He ascended the throne with the title of Chogyal, meaning the king who rules with righteousness, and was conferred the surname Namgyal. The stone throne on which this historical coronation took place still stands and is known as the Throne of Norbugang. The simple stone throne has four seats on different levels. The topmost seat was reserved for chief lama Lutsum Chembo. On his right, the slightly lower seat was meant for the newly crowned king Phunstok. On the left of the chief lama were two seats in descending height meant for the other two lamas Sempa Chembo and Rinzing Chembo respectively. The throne is fitted with the names and pictures of the lamas and the king in respective positions. Locals considered this place holy and offer regular prayers. Te historic coronation took place under a pine tree, which still stands. Opposite the throne is a giant chorten (stupa), which is said to contain water and soil from all parts of Sikkim.The complex houses a small newly built monastery and the entire complex is decorated with multi colured prayer flags.
- 2 Kathok Pokhri. Kathok Pokhri is a small lake, or rather a pond, connected to the historical coronation of Sikkim. Legend says that after coronation the new king was blessed by the three lamas with the water of the Kathok Pokhri. The lake still exists and is considered holy by the locals. The lake is lined with fluttering prayer flags. ₹20.
- 3 Dubdi Monastery, West District (1 hrs walk from Yuksom). The monastery was built in 1701, and it is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim. A winding trail leads to the monastery. The trail starts with the Yuksom Primary Health centre on the left and the Limbo Homestay on the right. Fluttering prayer flags welcome visitors to the monastery complex. The monastery consists of several structures including several chortens (stupas). Fluttering prayer flags welcome visitors to the monastery complex. Sadly the monastery remains closed most of the time.
- 4 Kartok Monastery (opposite Kartok Lake). This beautiful monastery gets its name from the nearby holy lake. This small monastery is newly constructed and has no connection with the historic coronation.
- 5 Yuksom Temple. A small temple on the side of the road housing several giant prayer wheels.
- 6 Shrine of Yangthang Rinpoche (South of Throne of Norbugang). Yangthang Rinpoche is said to be the incarnation of Lama Lutsum Chembo. The shrine is topped with a giant statue of Yangthang Rinpoche. The bare-bodied statue has a brown skin colour along white beard and hair tied in a knot. This is also a new construction.
- Dubdi and Hongri monasteries. (4 hours one way), the views are superb, the trail passes through a small waterfall and a small village upm in the hills called Chung. Truly a rewarding experience.
- Dzongri Trek. (4 to 5 days) the most popular trek in Sikkim, from Yuksom to Dzongri and Goecha La, with superb views of Kanchenjunga, reaching an altitude of 4.020 m (13.185 ft). The best season is March to June and August to November. The trek is rated easy to moderate. The trail follows the Rathong Valley to Bakkhim. After a steep ascent to the village of Tshoka it reaches Phedang and Dzongri, from where the trail drops steeply down to Thangsing (3.930 m). Dzongri offers a fascinating view of Kanchenjunga, Mt. Pandim and the Kyangla ridge. Goecha La is situated at an altitude of 4.940 m and offers extensive views of Pandim and Kanchenjunga. A sample itinerary for this trek is as follows:
- Day 1: Yuksam to Bakkhim (5 to 6 hr, altitude 2.744 m): The well-marked forest trail is winding high above the Rathong River. After four to five hours it crosses a bridge upstream of the confluence of the Rathong and Prek Rivers. From there it is another one hour ascent to Bakkhim (2.750 m). Overnight at the Rest House in Bakkhim or in a camp.
- Day 2: Bakkhim to Phedang (3.700 m): The trail leads to the village of Tshoka, a villahge of Tibetan refugees. Then it ascends steeply through rhododendron forest to the grazing meadow at Phedang (3.700 m). Overnight at camp.
- Day 3: Phedang to Dzongri (4.320 m): After an early start and a steep ascent of one hour you will encounter the first views Kanchenjunga (8.586 m) and Pandim (6.691 m). From there it is another two to three km across the open meadows to the camp at Dzongri (4.320 metres) with a splendid view of the peaks of the Singalila Ridge which divides Nepal from Sikkim. The panorama from Dzongri includes Koktang (6.147 m), Rathong (6.679 m), Kabru South (7.317 m) and Kabru North (7.338 m). Overnight at camp.
- Day 4: Rest day for acclimatise at Dzongri. Overnight at camp.
- Day 5: Dzongri to Tsokha (10 km, 4- to 5 hr): Return to Tsokha. Overnight at camp.
- Day 6: Tsokha to Yuksam (14 km, 5 to 6 hr).
- Dzongri and Goecha La Trek. (8 days), leading to an altitude of 5.000 m. The best season is June to September and October to mid November. A sample itinerary is as follows:
- Day 1: Yuksom to Tshokha (3.000 m/9.840 ft, 14 km, 5 to 6 hrs): The trail first climbs gently along the Ratong Chu River, then steeply to the settlement of Bakhim and for 3 km through forest of magnolia and rhododendron to Tshokha. Overnight at camp.
- Day 2: Tshokha to Dzongri (4.030 m, 13.218 ft, 10 km, 5 to 6 hr): The trail climbs for 3 hrs through rhododendron forests to the alp of Phidang (3.650 m) and further to Dzongri. Overnight in tents.
- Day 3: Rest day and acclimatise at Dzongri. From Dzongri Top there is a wide view of Kabru (7.353 m), Ratong (6.678 m), Kanchenjunga (8.534 m), Koktang (6.147 m), Pandim (6.691 m), Narsing (5.825 m) and the Singalila Ridge, which separates Sikkim from Nepal. Overnight in tents.
- Day 4: Dzongri to Tangsing (3.800 m, 12.464 ft, 10 km, 4 to 5 hr): The path crosses the bridge over the Prek Chu river and after a climb of one hour from the bridge reaches Tangsiing (3.800 m) on the slopes of Mount Pandim. Overnight stay in tents.
- Day 5: Tangsing to Samiti Lake (4.500 m, 14.760 ft, 7 km, 3 to 4 hrs): About one hour from Tangsiing Onglathang is reached with superb views on Kanchenjunga. The trail passes a series of glacial moraines and arrives at Samiti Lake. Overnight stay in tents.
- Day 6: Goecha La (5.002 m, 16.406 ft, 12 km, 6 to 7 hr): The climb to Goecha La starts with half an hour of gentle gradient, a steep ascent through glacial moraine north-east and then drops to a dry lake at Zemathang. A scramble over rocks and boulders with a rise of 400 m leads to the top of Goecha La pass between Pandim and the Kabru mountains, overlooking Talung Valley and commanding an impressive view of Kanchejunga. Return to the Samiti lake. Overnight stay in tents.
- Day 7: Samiti Lake to Tshokh (14 km, 6 to 7 hr): The trek leads back via Tangsiing and Kokchorung (3.800 m) to Tsokh. Overnight stay in tents.
- Day 8: Tshokh to Yuksom (14 km, 5 to 6 hr)
- Kanchandzongha National Park. It will take you 2 hours to trek into the wildlife sanctuary and go to a particular waterfall on the way to Dzongri. Very beautiful. You can also bathe here but will need to be careful. It's the coldest, purest and sweetest water ever! All the high-altitude treks including Kanchandzongha start from here: you get a wonderful view of Kanchandzongha from here and get to see yaks too. A few travel agencies are around and you can often find groups to join. Permits are easily available via travel agencies. You can also rent hiking gear in travel agencies around Yuksom (e.g. Hiddenparadise Adventure Tours,Glacier Treks & Adventure +91 8768809566).
- Kanchenjunga Goecha La Trek. (12 to 14 days) another popular trek in Sikkim, from Yuksom to Dzongri and Goecha La, with superb views of Kanchenjunga. There are only few trekking routes around the Kanchenjunga National Park which are open to visitors. The best season is March to June and August to November. The trek is rated moderate to challenging. A sample itinerary for this trek is as follows:
- Day 1: Yuksom to Tshokha (3.000 m/9.840 ft, 14 km, 5 to 6 hr): The trail first climbs gently along the Ratong Chu River, then steeply to the settlement of Bakhim and for 3 km through forest of magnolia and rhododendron to Tshokha. Overnight at camp.
- Day 2: Tshokha to Dzongri (4.030 m, 13.218 ft, 10 km, 5 to 6 hr): The trail climbs for 3 hr through rhododendron forests to the alp of Phidang (3.650 m) and further to Dzongri. Overnight in tents.
- Day 3: Excursion to Laxmi Pokhari through rhododendron bushes and pasture land to Laxmi Pokhari, a big lake in a deep crater with splendid view of Kanchenjunga, Pandim, Narsingh, Kabur, Kabur and Koktang. back to Dzongri, Overnight at tents.
- Day 4: Dzongri to Bikhbari (12 km, 4 to 5 hr). The trail first ascends gradually for about half an hour and then descends again, finallay it is a flat walk to Bikhbari. Overnight at camp.
- Day 5: Bikhbari, excursion to Chaurikhang and Rathong Glacier (Kanchenjunga Base Camp). Gradual ascent to Kanchenjunga Base Camp with views of Frey's peak, Koktang, Kabur and Rathong from here. Return to Bikhbari. Overnight stay at camp.
- Day 6: Reserve day for summit.
- Day 7: Bikhbari to Dzongri: trek back to Dzongri. Overnight stay at camp.
- Day 8: Dzongri to Thangsing (3.800 m, 12464 ft, 10 km , 4 to 5 hr:
- The trail leads into the valley, crosses the bridge over the Prek Chu River and climbs to Thangsing (3.800 m) on the slopes of Mount Pandim. Overnight stay in tents.
- Day 9: Thangsing to Samiti Lake (4.500 m, 14.760 ft, 7 km 3 to 4 hr: After an hour the trail reaches Onglathang with an excellent view of the south side of Kanchenjunga. The trail passes through a series of glacial moraines and leads to Samiti Lake. Overnight stay in tents.
- Day 10: excursion to Goecha La (5.002 m, 16.406 ft): After a gentle ascent for about 30 min the trail ascends steeply, follows the glacial moraine and drops to the dry lake at Zemathang, Finally it leads after a rise of 400 m will bring us oto the top of the Goecha La Pass, between Pandim and Kabru mountains, overlooking the Talung Valley with an impressive view of the south face of Kanchenjunga. Return to Samiti Lake. Overnight stay in tents.
- Day 11: Samiti Lake to Tshoka (14 km, 6 to 7 hr). Descent via Thangsing and Kokchorung (3.800 m) directly to Tshoka. Overnight stay in tents.
- Day 12: Tshoka to Yuksom (14 km, 5 to 6 hr)
- Khecheopalri Lake (close to Khecheopalri village). (1 day). The lake is revered by Buddhists and Hindus. The word "Khecheopalri" is derived from "Khcheo" meaning 'flying yoginis/angels' and "Palri" meaning 'Palace'. Wish full-filling powers are attrributed to the lake, which is surrounded by the Khechoedpaldri Hill, which is considered sacred as well. The Maghe Purne Festival in April/May attracts thousands of pilgrims from India, Nepal and Bhutan. The Chho-Tsho Festival is celebrated here in October at the end of the cardamom harvest. Khecheopalri Lake is part of the Buddhist pilgrimage circuit which consists of Tashiding, Monastery and Pemayangtse Monasteries, the ruins of Rabdentse and the Sanga Choeling monastery.
If you are one of those light weight carrying backpackers, you can buy basic clothes for your travel. Nothing fancy or touristy can be found here. It's not a regular tourist destination.
Please be ready to have vegetarian food here. Although non-vegetarian food is available, since it is a remote place, meat supplies are rare.
There are a few restaurants: Yak Restaurant, Norling, and Gupta restaurant at the main junction, which serves Indian, Italian and Mexican food.
The restaurants open at 5:30AM and are closed by 10PM. Although the quality of food is not so great (try Yak restaurant) sometime they have good food, especially the beef rice and morning alu parathas. But one may find decent pizzas and beer here.
You may also be lucky enough to encounter yak cheese momos. These are particularly fantastic after a long day's trek. They taste like they are filled with a very strong feta cheese.
Most of these restaurants also serve tongba (bamboo drink). Try this. It's a juice of the fermented millet served in a bamboo container, and you will also be given a small straw made of bamboo to sip the millet wine from the bamboo container.
There are two brands of bottled beer available Hit and Dansberg. Dansberg is a wonderful mild beer brewed and bottled in Sikkim. Hit on the other hand is a strong beer.
The other option is to go for the local brew called "Bamboo". It consists of fermented millet grains in a broad bamboo stem cut to be used as a tumbler. Warm water is added to the container, within a few minutes it acquires the flavour of port wine. It is drunk through a narrow straw also made of bamboo. More water is added to the tumbler when it runs out. With time the flavour of the Bamboo gets milder.
The potency of the drink is dependent on the aging of the millets used. Millets fermented for ten to fifteen days result in a medium to mild drink. Up to three month old fermented drinks can result in a very strong brew.
A very beautiful government guest house with two dormitories. total # of beds 6. ₹50 each in 2007. Three private hostels are also present.
- Demazong Hotel, Main street, Yuksom. Nice hotel in the village center, in front of Gupta restaurant. Clean and well furnished, some rooms are ensuite while others are not: prices for doubles are between ₹150 to ₹300. The owner is a friendly Tibetan woman. ₹100-350.
- Dragon Hotel (first hotel that you see on the right arriving in Yuksom on main road). Nice hotel near the village center. Clean, well maintained and really quiet. Nice view from the room balcony. Hot water. No wi-fi. ₹600/double/low season.
- Hotel Tashi Gang (near the basaar), ☏ .
- Hotel Yangri Gang (on the way to the market), ☏ .
- 1 Limboo Homestay (At the end of the main street, by the hospital), ☏ , email@example.com. Spotless, small family-run guesthouse in a beautiful mountain setting at the back side of the village. Large organic garden supplies fresh veggies to the kitchen, which produces a great variety of excellent vegetarian food. Owners are an ornithologist mountain trek guide and a nurse. Peaceful, comfortable, friendly. Hospitality here is first-rate. Rooms and garden cottages. ₹800-1,500.
- Pemalingpa Cottage, ☏ .
- Pemathang (on the way to the market), ☏ .
- Yuksam Residency, on the market, ☏ .
There are several treks leading from this place. Also, there is a Khangchendzonga National Park close by (which is a kind of heaven on earth).
To get out of Yuksom, Jeeps are available but mostly they run in the morning, starts at 5:30AM. You need to book it one day in advance to be sure you get a seat. Goes to Pelling, Geyzing and Jorethang.(2012)