|Chogyal of Sikkim|
|Seal of Sikkim|
|First monarch||Chogyal Phuntsog Namgyal|
|Last monarch||Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal|
|Official residence||Gangtok, Sikkim|
|Monarchy ended||May 16, 1975|
|Current pretender(s)||Wangchuk Namgyal|
The Chogyal (Tibetan: ཆོས་རྒྱལ, Wylie: 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 monarchy was abrogated and its people voted in a referendum 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 Zhabdrung. In this context, the Chogyal was a recognized reincarnation (or succession of reincarnations) of Zhabdrung 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. There were two main lines of Zhabdrung incarnations in Bhutan. The remainder of this article deals with the Chogyal of Sikkim. For Bhutan, see: Zhabdrung Rinpoche.
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. Chogyal means 'righteous ruler', and was the title conferred upon Sikkim's Buddhist kings during the reign of the Namgyal Monarchy.
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.
List of Chogyals of Sikkim (1642-1975)
|#||Reign||Portrait||Ruler||Events during reign|
|1||1642–1670||Phuntsog Namgyal||Ascended the throne and was consecrated as the first Chogyal of Sikkim. Made the capital in 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||The longest-reigning Chogyal of Sikkim. 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.|
|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||The shortest-reigning Chogyal of Sikkim, ruled from 10 February to 5 December 1914. Died of heart failure, aged 35, in most suspicious circumstances.|
|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||The 12th Chogyal, Indian sovereignty post plebiscite.|
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.
- Norbu, Namkhai (1988, 2000). The Crystal and the Way of Light: The Teachings of Namkhai Norbu. (Snow Lion Publications) pg.20 and Notes.
- Measuroo.com States and Territories of India series. Online:  (accessed: May 14, 2008)
- Buyers, Christopher (2002). The Namgyal Dynasty: Brief History. Online  (accessed: May 14, 2008).