Chogyal of Sikkim
Former Monarchy
Seal of Sikkim color.png
Seal of Sikkim
First monarch Chogyal Phuntsog Namgyal
Last monarch Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal
Official residence Gangtok, Sikkim
Appointer Crowned by three revered lamas who arrived there from three different directions, namely the north, west and south
Monarchy started 1642
Monarchy ended May 16, 1975
Current pretender Wangchuk Namgyal

The Chogyal (Tibetan: "ཆོས་རྒྱལWylie: chos rgyal) were the monarchs of the former kingdoms of Sikkim and Ladakh, which were ruled by separate branches of the Namgyal family. The Chogyal, or divine ruler, was the absolute potentate of Sikkim from 1642 to 1975, when its monarchy was abrogated and its people voted to make Sikkim India's 22nd state.

However, Chogyal meaning "Dharma Raja" or "Religious King" is a title which was also conferred upon a special class of temporal and spiritual rulers.

In Bhutan the Chogyal were also known as the Dharmaraja, or Kings of Dharma, and Shabdrung. In this context, the Chogyal was a recognized reincarnation (or succession of reincarnations) of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the 17th Century Tibetan-born founder of Bhutan. A position of supreme importance, the Bhutanese Chogyal was above both the highest monastic authority, the Je Khenpo, and the highest temporal ruler, the Deb Raja or Druk Desi.[1] The Tibetan Dzogchen teacher Namkhai Norbu holds this title as a recognized reincarnation of Ngawang Namgyel, and there is also a line of claimed reincarnations in Bhutan and India. The remainder of this article deals with the Chogyal of Sikkim. For Bhutan, see Shabdrung.

From 1642 to 1975, Sikkim was ruled by the Namgyal Monarchy (also called the Chogyal Monarchy), founded by the fifth-generation descendants of Guru Tashi, a prince of the Minyak House who came to Sikkim from the Kham district of Tibet.[2] Chogyal means 'righteous ruler,' and was the title conferred upon Sikkim's Buddhist kings during the reign of the Namgyal Monarchy.[3]

The reign of the Chogyal was foretold by the patron saint of Sikkim, Guru Rinpoche. The 8th century saint had predicted the rule of the kings when he arrived in the state. In 1642, Chogyal Phuntsog Namgyal was crowned as Sikkim's first ruler in Yuksom. The crowning of the king was a great event and he was crowned by three revered lamas who arrived there from three different directions, namely the north, west and south.

Chogyals of Sikkim
# Reign Ruler Events during reign
1 1642–1670 Phuntsog Namgyal Ascended the throne and was consecrated as the first Chogyal of Sikkim. Made the capital Yuksom.
2 1670–1700 Tensung Namgyal Shifted capital to Rabdentse from Yuksom
3 1700–1717 Chakdor Namgyal His half-sister Pendiongmu tried to dethrone Chakdor, who fled to Lhasa, but was reinstated as king with the help of Tibetans.
4 1717–1733 Gyurmed Namgyal Sikkim was attacked by Nepalese.
5 1733–1780 Phuntsog Namgyal II Nepalese raided Rabdentse, the then capital of Sikkim
6 1780–1793 Tenzing Namgyal Chogyal fled to Tibet, and later died there in exile.
7 1793–1863 Tshudpud Namgyal Shifted the capital from Rabdentse to Tumlong. Treaty of Titalia in 1817 between Sikkim and British India was signed in which territories lost to Nepal were appropriated to Sikkim. Darjeeling was gifted to British India in 1835. Two Britons, Dr. Arthur Campbell and Dr. Joseph Dalton Hooker were captured by the Sikkimese in 1849. Hostilities between British India and Sikkim continued and led to a treaty signed, in which Darjeeling was ceded to British India.
8 1863–1874 Sidkeong Namgyal
9 1874–1914 Thutob Namgyal Claude White appointed as the first political officer of Sikkim in 1889. Capital shifted from Tumlong to Gangtok in 1894.
10 1914 Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal
11 1914–1963 Tashi Namgyal Treaty between India and Sikkim was signed in 1950 giving India suzerainty over Sikkim.
12 1963–1975 Palden Thondup Namgyal Forced to abdicate after illness and a plebiscite. Married Hope Cooke, a US citizen. Died in 1982.

The son from the first marriage of Palden Thondup Namgyal, Wangchuk Namgyal, was named the 13th Chogyal after his father's death on 29 January 1982, but the position no longer confers any official authority.

See also


  1. ^ Norbu, Namkhai (1988, 2000). The Crystal and the Way of Light: The Teachings of Namkhai Norbu. (Snow Lion Publications) pg.20 and Notes.
  2. ^ States and Territories of India series. Online: [1] (accessed: May 14, 2008)
  3. ^ Buyers, Christopher (2002). The Namgyal Dynasty: Brief History. Online" [2] (accessed: May 14, 2008)

External links

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