The sleepy, spread-out hamlet of YOKSUM at the end of the road and at the entrance to the Rathong Chu gorge, 40km north of Pemayangtse, holds a special place in Sikkimese history. This was the spot where three lamas converged from different directions across the Himalayas to enthrone the first religious king of Sikkim, Chogyal Phuntsog Namgyal, in 1642. Named the “Great Religious King”, he established Tibetan Buddhism in Sikkim. Lhatsun Chenpo is supposed to have buried offerings in Yoksum’s Norbugang Chorten, a vast white stupa built with stones and earth from different parts of Sikkim, to be found in Norbugang Park (1km), which also houses the Coronation Throne, a simple stone throne of the first chogyal. In front of the throne, a large footprint embedded in a rock belongs to one of the lamas. Disappointing today, Kathok Lake, a small scummy pond nearby at the top end of town, was also part of the original ceremony.

The village’s main role these days is as the start of the high-altitude Dzongri Trail, but unless you have a trekking permit, you’re not supposed to venture any further and the authorities are quite vigilant. So long as you’re not carrying a backpack they may allow a day-trip along the main trail to the Parekh Chu and its confluence with the Rathong Chu – a 28km roundtrip.

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