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Sikkim commemorated the 129th birth anniversary of 11th Chogyal (King) Sir Tashi Namgyal on October 26. A low key, rare celebration of the former King was organised by Vivid Kala Akademi and the Journalists Union of Sikkim. The occasion included individuals connected with the erstwhile Royal family, along with many who saw the former King in person back in the monarchy era along with students from various schools in Gangtok.

Chogyal Tashi Namgyal’s era from 1914 to 1963 was considered the golden era of the Namgyal dynasty. One that saw both the ancient confluence as well as the welcoming of the modern era. Born in Tibet in 1893, when his father 9th Chogyal Thutob Namgyal was in hiding after pressures from the then British Raj. Tashi Namgyal was educated in the prestigious St. Paul’s School in Darjeeling.

Speaking at the event, a close associate of the erstwhile Chogyal family, Yap Thinlay Namgyal Densapa shared, “Chogyal Tashi Namgyal’s period was the golden era of Sikkim. He was a saintly king, I remember when he passed away, I was 13 (years old). I remember him very vividly as a Stately person who barely spoke, but when he spoke, he was very sincere, honest, and didn’t mince his words. Monarchy was divided into two periods, previously we were educated old, the traditional Tibetan style until Sir Thutob Namgyal (9th King) it was like that. Hence Thutob Namgyal faced a lot of difficulties from the British Raj, especially Claude White. He (Thutob) had to run away to Tibet as Claude White had an inferiority complex. There was the Indian Civil Service which was the British version of the Indian Administrative Service now.”

During Tashi Namgyal’s reign, he was known for land reform and free elections. He also favoured closer links between Sikkim, India and Tibet. Tashi Namgyal also established the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, with the foundation stone laid by the Dalai Lama in 1957. The first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the same on October 1, 1958. It was then called Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology.

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology Director PW Rinzing shared, “So many reforms came socially, culturally, traditionally, it all happened mostly in his period. For example, in 1951, the preceding land lordship system, in 1951 he abolished. That was the turning point of the history of Sikkim. We saw the history change from there, people were given democratic feelings. It was a transformation. In 1955 he empanelled the Judiciary, the same year, he started the High Court of Sikkim. All these things are something to appreciate. He was also the first person to order a land survey in Sikkim in 1951, the records from that survey is still taken as the basis for all land reforms in Sikkim. There are many other reforms that he brought, including culture, religion, politically too as he was the Maharaja. In 1954 and 1961, he published the first and second five-year plans in Sikkim. Taking an example from India, he wanted Sikkim to function in a planned manner. He took Sikkim towards newer development, all of which we can see in Sikkim even till now.”

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  1. 11th Denjong Chogyal Tashi Namgyal was born in Kurseong and not Tibet. Chogyal Thutob Namgyal and Gyalmo Yeshe Dolma was imprisoned in Darjeeling – Kurseong where Chogyal Tashi Namgyal was born.

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