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Chogyal of Sikkim
Seal of Sikkim.jpg
Palden Thondup Namgyal.jpg
Palden Thondup Namgyal
First monarchPhuntsog Namgyal
Last monarchPalden Thondup Namgyal
Abolition16 May 1975
ResidenceTsuklakhang Palace, Gangtok
Pretender(s)Wangchuk Namgyal

The Chogyal ("Dharma Kings", Tibetan: ཆོས་རྒྱལ, Wylie: chos rgyal) were the monarchs of the former Kingdom of Sikkim, which belonged to the Namgyal dynasty. The Chogyal was the absolute monarch of Sikkim from 1642 to 1973, and the constitutional monarch from 1973 to 1975, when the monarchy was abolished and the Sikkimese people voted in a referendum to make Sikkim the 22nd state of India.[1][2]


Statue of Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche
Tsuklakhang Palace

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

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, Phuntsog Namgyal was crowned as Sikkim's first Chogyal 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.

Chogyal kings of Sikkim[edit]

List of chogyals[edit]

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Phuntsog Namgyal
  • 1st Chogyal
  • ཕུན་ཚོགས་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་
(aged 65–66)
16421670Ascended the throne and was consecrated as the first Chogyal of Sikkim. Made the capital at Yuksom in West Sikkim.NamgyalPhuntsog Namgyal of Sikkim
Tensung Namgyal
  • 2nd Chogyal
  • བསྟན་སྲུང༌རྣམ་རྒྱལ་
(aged 55–56)
16701700Son of Phuntsog Namgyal.
Shifted capital from Yuksom to Rabdentse which was later destroyed by Gurkhas.
NamgyalTensung Namgyal of Sikkim
Chakdor Namgyal
  • 3rd Chogyal
  • ཕྱག་རྡོར་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་
(aged 30–31)
17001717His half-sister Pendiongmu tried to dethrone Chakdor, who fled to Lhasa, but was reinstated as king with the help of Tibetans.NamgyalChakdor Namgyal of Sikkim
Gyurmed Namgyal
  • 4th Chogyal
  • འགྱུར་མེད་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་
(aged 25–26)
17171733Sikkim was attacked by Nepalis.NamgyalGyurmed Namgyal of Sikkim
Phuntsog Namgyal II
  • 5th Chogyal
  • ཕུན་ཚོགས་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་
(aged 46–47)
17331780Nepalis raided Rabdentse, the then capital of Sikkim.NamgyalPhuntsog Namgyal II of Sikkim
Tenzing Namgyal
  • 6th Chogyal
  • བསྟན་འཛིན་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་
(aged 23–24)
17801793Fled to Tibet, and later died there in exile.NamgyalTenzing Namgyal of Sikkim
Tsugphud Namgyal
  • 7th Chogyal
  • གཙུག་ཕུད་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་
(aged 77–78)
17931863Son of Tenzing Namgyal.
The longest-reigning Chogyal of Sikkim. Shifted the capital from Rabdentse to third capital 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. Campbell and Dr. Hooker were captured by the Sikkimese in 1849. Hostilities between Britain and Sikkim continued and led to the Treaty of Tumlong in 1861, making Sikkim a de facto British protectorate.
NamgyalTsugphud Namgyal of Sikkim
Sidkeong Namgyal
  • 8th Chogyal
  • སྲིད་སྐྱོང་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་
(aged 54–55)
18631874Son of Tsugphud Namgyal.NamgyalSidkeong Namgyal of Sikkim
Thutob Namgyal
  • 9th Chogyal
  • མཐུ་སྟོབས་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་
1860 – 11 February 1914
(aged 53–54)
187411 February 1914Half-brother of Sidkeong Namgyal.
John Claude White appointed as the first political officer in Sikkim in 1889.[4] Capital shifted from Tumlong to fourth and last capital at Gangtok in 1894.
NamgyalThutob Namgyal of Sikkim
Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal
  • 10th Chogyal
  • སྲིད་སྐྱོང་སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་
1879 – 5 December 1914
(aged 34–35)
11 February 19145 December 1914Son of Thutob Namgyal.
The shortest-reigning Chogyal of Sikkim. Died of heart failure, in most suspicious circumstances. studied at oxford university
NamgyalSidkeong Tulku Namgyal of Sikkim
Tashi Namgyal
  • 11th Chogyal
  • བཀྲ་ཤིས་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་
(1893-10-26)26 October 1893 – 2 December 1963(1963-12-02) (aged 70)5 December 19142 December 1963Half-brother of Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal.
The second longest-reigning Chogyal of Sikkim. Treaty between India and Sikkim was signed in 1950, giving India suzerainty over Sikkim.
NamgyalTashi Namgyal of Sikkim
Palden Thondup Namgyal
  • 12th Chogyal
  • དཔལ་ལྡན་དོན་འགྲུབ་རྣམ་རྒྱལ
(1923-05-23)23 May 1923 – 29 January 1982(1982-01-29) (aged 58)2 December 1963[a]10 April 1975Son of Tashi Namgyal.
The last Chogyal of Sikkim. The country became a state of India, following the 1975 referendum.
NamgyalPalden Thondup Namgyal of Sikkim

Titular chogyals[edit]

The son from the first marriage of Palden Thondup Namgyal, Wangchuk Namgyal (Sikkimese: དབང་ཕྱུག་བསྟན་འཛིན་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་; born 1 April 1953), was named the 13th Chogyal after his father's death on 29 January 1982,[6] but the position no longer confers any official authority.

Titular (1975–present)
Name Reign start Reign end Notes
Palden Thondup Namgyal 10 April 1975 29 January 1982 Son of Tashi Namgyal
Wangchuk Namgyal 29 January 1982 Incumbent Son of Palden Thondup Namgyal

Family tree[edit]

Namgyal dynasty and the Chogyals of Sikkim
Namgyal I

r. 1642-1670

r. 1670-1700

r. 1700-1717

r. 1717-1733
Namgyal II

r. 1733-1780

r. 1780-1793

r. 1793-1863

r. 1863-1874

r. 1874-1914

r. 1914

r. 1914-1963

r. 1963-1975
– Titular –
r. 1975-1982

– Titular –
r. 1982-present

Royal Flag[edit]

Rulers of other Himalayan kingdoms[edit]

Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan[edit]

Painting of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal

In Bhutan, "dharmaraja" or "Righteous King" is a title which was also conferred upon a special class of temporal and spiritual rulers. In Bhutan, the Chogyal were given the respectful title Zhabdrung. In this context, the Chogyal was a recognised 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.[7] There were two main lines of Zhabdrung incarnations in Bhutan.

Gyalpo of Ladakh[edit]

The region of Ladakh was ruled by a separate line of the Namgyal dynasty that lasted from 1460 to 1842 and were titled the Gyalpo of Ladakh.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crowned on 4 April 1965.[5]


  1. ^ G. T. (1 March 1975), "Trouble in Sikkim", Index on Censorship, 4: 68–69, doi:10.1080/03064227508532403, S2CID 220927214
  2. ^ "Sikkim Votes to End Monarchy, Merge With India". The New York Times. 16 April 1975. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  3. ^ States and Territories of India series. Online: [1] (accessed: 14 May 2008)
  4. ^ "John Claude White – career". King's College London. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  5. ^ "Maharaja and His U.S. Bride Crowned Amid Pomp in Sikkim". The New York Times. 5 April 1965. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Palden Thondup Namgyal, Deposed Sikkim King, Dies". The New York Times. 30 January 1982. Retrieved 4 September 2020. The deposed King of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal, who had been undergoing treatment for cancer in New York City, died last night from complications following an operation at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He was 58 years old. A family spokesman said his body was to be flown home to Sikkim for the funeral. ...
  7. ^ Norbu, Namkhai (1988, 2000). The Crystal and the Way of Light: The Teachings of Namkhai Norbu. (Snow Lion Publications) pg.20 and Notes.
  8. ^ Teg Bahadur Kapur (1987). Ladakh, the Wonderland A Geographical, Historical, and Sociological Study. Mittal Publications. p. 57. ISBN 9788170990116.