SIKKIM

SIKKIM, a small Himalayan State lying between 27 to 28 degrees North latitude and 88 to 89 degrees east longitude is the second smallest state in India. It is barely 7,096 sq. km in size yet has an elevation ranging from 300 m to 8585 m above sea level. Its Geography is dominated by the most majestic mountain chain in the world which includes the Kangchendzonga, the world's third highest mountain.

Picturesque mountains, glaciers, passes, lakes and hot springs combine with a surprisingly varied range of plant and animal life makes it beautiful. Sikkim also boasts of the planet's third highest mountain peak – Kangchendzonga. With its remote hilltop monasteries that reverberate with ethereal chants, and its shiny smiling people, Sikkim is one of the most fascinating destinations for any traveler. Sikkim was an independent kingdom, ruled by the King Chogyal.

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History of Sikkim

The tiny state of Sikkim is cradled by Bhutan on the east, Nepal on the west and Tibet on the north. Sikkim is situated amongst the highest peaks of the Eastern Himalayas, along the higher reaches of the Tista River Valley. An independent kingdom till 1975, Sikkim thereafter joined the Indian Territory to become the 22nd state of the Indian Union. The original inhabitants of Sikkim, the Lepchas still constitute a little less than 20% of the state’s population.

Around the 15th century, the Bhutias came to Sikkim from Tibet through Bhutan, and now form 10% of the state’s populace. Phuntsog Namgyal, a Bhutia monk was crowned the first chogyal, or monarch of Sikkim. The Nepalese migrated to Sikkim in large numbers, and today constitute about 70% of Sikkim’s total population. Naturally, Nepali is the chief language of the state. It was the Nepalese who introduced terrace farming and cardamom plantation to the region. Since Sikkim is turning out to be a key tourist draw, fortune-seekers are making a beeline for the region. However, farming continues to be the main occupation. The dominant religion of the state is Hinduism (67.2%), followed by Buddhism (28.7%). There is also a small population of Christians (2.2%) and Muslims (1%) in the state.

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