Yuksom, a beautiful little hamlet in west Sikkim, is where I concluded my 14-day Sikkim experience; when in fact as per my rough plans, we (my cousin and I) had two more destinations on the list before it was time to go back. But that’s the thing about Yuksom. It won’t let you leave.

Kathok Lake, Yuksom

Kathok Lake, Yuksom

Situated at an altitude of 5840 feet, the natural beauty of Yuksom, historically known to be the first capital of Sikkim, is serene, colourful, and inspiring – all at once. Perfect for meditative day-walks, it is also the trailhead for the Khangchendzonga Trek (Dzongri & Goecha La). However, apart from trekkers, Yuksom is yet to attract the large share of tourists who still prefer to soak in mountain views from the now over-crowded Pelling.

The main street, where service taxis drop off local passengers and tourists alike, harbours the Yuksom market area, with no more than 10-12 enterprises lining either side of the road. This includes a few hotels, couple of small time restaurants, provision shops, a garage, grocer, meat shop etc. There are no ATMs however. The nearest one would be in Pelling, so carry all the money you need. Hotels like Demazong and Wild Orchid will provide basic rooms ranging from Rs. 200 to Rs 700, some of which would pack in spectacular views of this misty green mountain town. The main road shrinks to the Dzongri trekking trail which stretches to the Tibetan border.

Homestay

We decided to opt for a homestay in Yuksom.  A five minute walk ahead of the market brings you to a de-tour trail rising up through the terraced vegetable gardens and brightly painted log cabins of the village. A young girl from one of the houses we passed directed us to a home-stay on the hill. Grateful good-byes and another ten minute climb later, we saw our soon to be hostess Doma waiting for us with a warm smile. Apparently, the girl we met en route had informed her of our coming.

EZOM-Homestay

EZOM-Homestay

EZOM Homestay, owned by a local Nepalese family, is a beautiful 2-storey sky blue coloured cabin with dark green piping and bright yellow window panes. The family occupies the ground floor, while the kitchen, dining and guest rooms are on top.

my-room-at-EZOM

my-room-at-EZOM

Inside, our neat cream-walled rooms looked out into a peach garden and wild rose bushes. From the balcony that runs across the breadth of the house you can see Kchecheopalri, Tashiding and Pelling at a distance. The common well-kept bathroom and toilet are separate with hot water available on request!

the common bathroom and loo

the common bathroom and loo

Peach garden view from window

Peach garden view from window

In Yuksom, NGOs promoting eco-tourism guard the interests of villagers by helping them set-up and promote homestays, which not only serve as an additional income for the villagers but also give visitors an opportunity to live out an authentic village experience in Sikkim. Food served throughout the course of your stay is completely organic, with most ingredients growing in the front yard. Meals include local delicacies like momos, millet rotis, healthy leafy noodle soups, rice and traditional meat dishes. Don’t forget to try the ‘Chhaang’ – a kind of beer made of rice/ millet, which is a favorite with the Sikkimese across the state. Chhaang is offered in a tall bamboo container called Tongba, and is drank warm.

Like most village houses, EZOM also has its share of farm animals – yaks, pigs, goats, chickens – you name it. And if you are ever in need of a cosy cuddle, Peechu the adorable house cat will be at your service.

Contact Person:

Doma: 09735087098
Mamaji (he’s popular around town, you could also ask for him if trying to locate EZOM): 09733085128
Rates: Rs. 650 per head inclusive of all meals

Around Yuksom

Yuksom means the ‘meeting point of the three Lamas’ referring to the three Tibetan monks who came together to crown Phuntshog as the first Chogyal or religious King of Sikkim in AD 1641. The ceremony took place in what is now known as Norbugang Park. This quiet and pristine site houses a Gompa, a stupa and the coronation throne over which towers a massive pine tree. During the ceremony a sprinkling of holy water was apparently taken from ‘Kathok Pokhri’, a murky lake that you’ll walk past en route.

Norbugang Park Coronation site

Norbugang Park Coronation site

If you have the time, you could jump over the stone boundaries of Norbugang onto a clearing that will lead you through more picturesque village homes, and could keep you walking in bliss for hours.

You could also check out the royal palace complex known as Tashi Tenka, but today all that remains at this site is the majestic vantage point with breathtaking views. A small path near the village school leads you here.

Dubdi Monastery

Dubdi Monastery

Yuksom is also known for being home to Sikkim’s oldest monastery – the Dubdi Gompa, built in 1701. A steep 35 min climb from our homestay (or a one-hour climb from the village clinic), the path to Dubdi cuts through thick lush forests of tranquility, and the Gompa itself is nestled amongst beautifully landscaped gardens. During the day-time, a care-taker would let you in and even give you a brief history lesson for free!

Prayer-flags-at-Norbugang

Prayer-flags-at-Norbugang

Travelling To

You will get local Service Taxis (shared) to Yuksom from most of the central stops in Sikkim including Gangtok (Rs 160, six hours), Jorthang (Rs. 80, four hours), Geyzing (Rs 60, 2 hours). If you are coming directly from New Jalpaiguri station (NJP), it is advisable to get to Siliguri (8km) first and then take a service taxi to Pelling (Rs. 200 or more, 6-7 hours) or Jorethang (Rs. 100 3.5 hrs). From here, you get connecting cabs to Yuksom. From Darjeeling (West Bengal) you can reach Yuksom via Jorethang (6-8 Hours)

Trek -In case you’re heading to Yuksom from Khecheopalri Lake, you can choose to trek for about 4-5 hours through the mountains (a steep descent followed by a steep ascent)

Travelling From

Between 6 am – 7am in the morning, several shared jeeps leave from the Yuksom market (front of the Yak Restaurant) for Jorethang (Rs 80, four hours), via Tashiding (Rs 45, 1½ hour) and for Geyzing via Pelling (Rs 60, approximately 2½ hours) There is one jeep in a day that leaves for Gangtok (Rs 160, six hours). Book your seats a day in advance!

Trek – One day treks to Tashiding & to Chung village is possible

sikkim women

sikkim women

Best time to visit: February to mid-May. And then Oct – Dec when the winters are still bearable.

Word of caution: If you are traveling in the month of May, and rain has already become a regular feature, then beware of leeches. Always keep some salt handy during your treks/ walks.