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Yuksam - a chapter frozen in time

So, who cares if we're a hop away from Pelling, the paradise of the domestic tourist (read: the travelling Bengali)?
So who cares if we are the gateway to some of the best trekking experiences in Sikkim?
So, who cares if this is the first capital of Sikkim, 1641 AD?
So, who cares if a pack animal (pony or yak) dies of accidental or natural causes on a trail?
So, who cares if you throw a used maggi packet or tin can on the trail down from Dzongri?
Yuksam cares, that's who. Yuksam, a small sleepy town at the foothills of the mountains of West Sikkim. Yuksam or Yoksum or any combination of English vowels ... who cares?
It means the same "yok" - meeting place of "sam" - the three monks. The story goes that these three holy and mighty monks, after several prayers and sacrifice, all arrived at this designated holy spot to further pray and then appoint the first king of sikkim in 1641-42 AD.
I drove through Pelling ... a messy aggregation of over 80 hotels juxtaposed against each other ... and a promised view of the various mountains in the Khangchendzonga range. But a must-stop for the domestic tourist. Hotels are run by various people from states around and even distant. Yuksam has maintained its cultural identity by stiffly resisting any attempt by non-villagers to open hotels and restaurants in the village.
Yuksam wants to know how we can educate our trekkers to "leave nothing behind but your footprints" — in scouts we had the phrase, leave nothing behind but your thanks! So, KCC has organized a massive waste management system where every bit of possible waste such as tins and bottles are registered on the way in and on the way out ... and there is a stiff fine if anything is missing. My guide shared with me that they have not been able to collect the fine of Rs 5000 yet ... no one has left anything behind but footprints! Great work!
If a pony or yak dies on the trail, for whatever reason, the group of pack animal operators contributes Rs 200 per family to help the owner to bear the loss and rebuild his capital. This happens even if a human being in the village dies — though the contribution is Rs 50. But people are allowed to contribute more if they want.
I am humbled ... Yuksam cares!

1 comment


Sounds like a people to be learnt from...
LNT-Leave No Trace, meaning to leave a place as it was before you got there. Nice thoughts!