Sikkim, often referred to as ‘the only brother of the seven sister states’, is spread over an area of 7,096 sq. km. It shares its borders with West Bengal. It shares its international boundaries with China, Nepal and Bhutan. The total length of International borders is 350 Km. Sikkim along with Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal share the maximum number of international boundaries (three).
- Capital – Gangtok
- Districts – 4
- Population – 610,577
- Assembly seats – 32
- Lok Sabha seats – 1
- Rajya Sabha seats – 1
- Literacy rate – 81.4%
- Sex ratio – 890
Kazi Lhendup Dorjee was the first chief minister of the state which was created on 16 May 1975. The current incumbent Pawan Kumar Chamling belongs to the Sikkim Democratic Front. He was sworn in as the state’s 5th Chief Minister on 21 May 2014 for the fifth consecutive time. Srinivas Patil is the Governor of the state.
The state of Sikkim was predominantly ruled by the Namgyal Dynasty. Phuntsog Namgyal declared himself the monarch of the state. However, the state allied itself with the British in the 19th century.
The state faced frequent attacks by Bhutan and Tibet. In the Gurkha War of 1814, Sikkim joined hands with the British against Nepal. Consequently, a peace treaty was signed between Nepal and Sikkim. The state was a princely state under the British rule.
In 1975, the monarchy in Sikkim was abolished and it became a self-governing and independent state.
- Nathu la Pas, a mountain pass with connects Sikkim with Tibet’s autonomous regions, was an important silk route in the past.
- Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world is partly in Nepal and partly in the state.
- Sikkim is the first Indian state to implement organic farming.
- The Singshore Bridge, with a span of 198 metres and a depth of 220 metres, is the second highest suspension bridge in Asia.
- Sikkim is the largest producer and exporter of large cardamom in India.
- Gangtok, the state’s capital is the “First Ever Litter Free and Spit Free Zone in India”.
- Sikkim Rhubarb or Rheum Nobile is a giant herbaceous plant also called a glasshouse plant because of its outer curtain of translucent bracts which pass visible light, creating a greenhouse effect, while blocking ultraviolet radiation.
- Holy Water ceremony of ‘Bhum Chu’ held every year in the Tashiding Monastery, predicts the future of Sikkim.
- ‘Baba Mandir’ near Nathu La pass is built to honour the soldier, Harbhajan Singh.
- The state is known as ‘Drenjong’ in Tibetan language, meaning ‘a valley of rice’ and in Bhutan, it is known as ‘Beyul Demazong’ meaning the ‘hidden valley of rice’.
- The old name of the state is “Indrakil” which means a garden of lord Indra.
- Widely spoken languages in the state are Nepali, Bhutia, Limbu, Lepcha, Newari, Magar, Tamang, Gurung, Sherpa and Sunwar.
- Teesta is the major river of the state.
- The state’s cuisine includes momos, wontons, thukpa and chaang.
- Gumpa Dance and Mask Dance are major dance forms of the state.
- Losar is an important festival.
Sikkim is home for 5 major hot water springs known for their medicinal and therapeutic values- Reshi Hot Spring, Ralong Hot Spring, Yumthang Hot Spring, Yume Sandong Hot Spring and Phurchachu Hot Spring.
Siddheshwar Dham in Sikkim has a 108-foot-tall statue of Lord Shiva with 12 jyotirlingams girdled across. It is famous for various Buddhist monasteries like Rumtek and Phodong. According to Buddhist beliefs, Gurudongmar Lake and Tsomgo Lake are sacred lakes. The Buddhist Park of Ravangla and Ban Jhakri Waterfalls attract tourists in large numbers.
The state is extremely rich in biodiversity and has two national parks- Khanzchendzonga National Park and Deorali National Park.
Trade And Industry
The state’s economic activities revolve around:
- Agricultural produce like maize, wheat, barley, millet and paddy
- Horticulture produce like oranges, apples and cardamom
- Minerals including copper, gold, zinc and silver