About Sikkim

Geography of Sikkim

Sikkim is a small mountain state in eastern Himalayas. Sikkim is located between 28o07'48" and 27o04'46" north latitudes, and 88o0058" and 88o55'25" east longitudes. It is bounded by Tibet on the north, Nepal on the west, Bhutan on the east and West Bengal lies to its south. It is the least populous state in the union. Sikkim is strategically important for India. It lies astride the shortest route from India to Tibet. Sikkim is a land of rich and varied scenic beauty, magnificent mountains, eternal snows, dark forests, green fertile valleys, raging torrents and calm, placid lakes. Her magnificent variety of flora and fauna are the naturalist's dream; the steep variations in elevation and rainfall give rise to a glorious multitude of species within a comparatively limited area

The scenic grandeur of mighty snow-capped peaks, the highest of which is the 28,162 feet Kanchanjunga on the Nepal-Sikkim border, has been a symbol of romantic awe and wonder for the people. It is the world's third highest peak. Kanchanjunga has five satellite peaks: Jano, Kabru, Pandim, Narsim, Simiolchu. Two principle mountain ranges are the Singilela and Chola, which start in the north and continue, following a more or less southerly direction. Between these ranges are the principle rivers, the Rangit and the Teesta, forming the main channels of drainage. These rivers are fed by the monsoon rains as well as by melting glaciers.

History of Sikkim

Buddhism, the major religion in the state, arrived from Tibet in the 13th century. It took its distinctive Sikkimese form four centuries later, when three Tibetan monks of the old Nyingamapa order, dissatisfied with the rise of the reformist Gelukpas, migrated to Yoksum in western Sikkim. Having consulted an oracle, they went to Gangtok looking for a certain Phuntsong Namgyal, whom they crowned as the first Chogyal or 'Righteous King' of Denzong in 1642. Being the secular and religious head, he was soon recognized by Tibet, and brought sweeping reforms. His kingdom was far larger than today's Sikkim and included Kalimpong and parts of western Bhutan. Over the centuries, the territory was lost to the Bhutanese, the Nepalese and the British.

The British policy to diminish the strong Tibetan influence resulted in the import of workers from Nepal to work in the tea plantations of Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong and these soon outnumbered the indigenous population. After India's Independence, the eleventh Chogyal, Tashi Namgyal, strove hard to prevent the dissolution of his kingdom. Officially, Sikkim was a protectorate of India, and the role of India became increasingly crucial with the Chinese military build-up along the northern borders that culminated in an actual invasion early in the 1960s. The next king Palden Thondup was a weak ruler and in 1975, succumbed to the demands of the Nepalese majority of becoming a part of India.

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