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Born on October 26, 1983, Tashi Namgyal became the ruling Chogyal (King) of Sikkim in the year 1914. The son of former Chogyal Thutob Namgyal, he was a popular king amongst the Sikkimese populace and ruled until 1963 when he tragically passed away in 1963.
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His Highness Sir Tashi Namgyal, 11th Chogyal of Sikkim
Sir Tashi Namgyal became the 11th ruler of the Namgyal dynasty of Sikkim after succeeding his half-brother, Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal, who served his term as Chogyal between February to December in 1914, till his demise due to a heart failure.
Back when Sikkim was an independent protectorate of India, Chogyal Tashi Namgyal wasn’t just rooted to Sikkim but had connections to both Tibet and India. He was born in Tibet and was crowned by the 13th Dalai Lama. He got an education at St. Paul’s School, Darjeeling, and later continued at Mayo College, Ajmer. As an advocate of peace and diplomacy and additionally due to his diverse upbringing, Sir Tashi Namgyal wished for greater ties between India, Sikkim, and Tibet.
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Sir Tashi Namgyal, one of the most decorated Chogyal of Sikkim
Beloved of his people, during his lifetime Chogyal Tashi Namgyal introduced land reforms and free elections.
Succeeded by his son Palden Thondup Namgyal after his death in 1963, people could see the decline in popularity of the Chogyal monarchy. While in part this was due to the movement for integration with the Indian state, it was also because Chogyal Tashi Namgyal was a tough act to follow.
His legacy says it all, the reforms he brought in helped shape Sikkim into the state that it is. Tashi Namgyal introduced the Nationalised State Transport Service which created the framework for modern roadways. The first General Hospital in the city of Gangtok, Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial (STNM) Hospital in Gangtok was established by him in the memory of his father in 1917.
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New STNM Hospital, Gangtok, Sikkim. Photo by Shital Pradhan
A lifelong patron of arts and knowledge, Chogyal Tashi’s biggest contribution was the investment he made in Sikkim’s education. The Founder of Tashi Namgyal Academy, one of the most esteemed primary and secondary educational institute in Sikkim known, he promoted education for all. Sikkim today, the 7th most literate state in India. Visiting Sikkim is a good option for Native English speakers as a large fraction of the populace speaks and understands English.
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Tashi Namgyal Academy. Photograph by Tshering Gyatso
This explains why the state of Sikkim today, a beautiful place with a beautiful history all thanks to the foundation laid down by the benevolence of His Highness Chogyal Tashi Namgyal.