Sikkim (सिक्किम, also known as Shikim or Shikimpati) is a landlocked Indian state located in the Himalayan mountains. The state bordersNepal to the west, Tibet to the north and east, and Bhutan to the east. The Indian state of West Bengal lies to the south. With 610,577 inhabitants as of the 2011 census, Sikkim is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest state after Goa in total area, covering approximately 7,096 km2 (2,740 sq mi). Sikkim is nonetheless geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas; the climate ranges fromsubtropical to high alpine, and Kangchenjunga, the world's third-highest peak, is located on Sikkim's border with Nepal. Sikkim is a popular tourist destination, owing to its culture, scenery and biodiversity. It also has the only open land border between India and China. Sikkim's capital and largest city isGangtok. According to legend, the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche visited Sikkim in the 8th century AD, introduced Buddhism and foretold the era of the monarchy. Sikkim's Namgyal dynasty was established in 1642. Over the next 150 years, the kingdom witnessed frequent raids and territorial losses to Nepalese invaders. In the 19th century, it allied itself with British India, eventually becoming a British protectorate. In 1975, a referendum abolished the Sikkimese monarchy, and the territory was merged with India. Sikkim is the only state in India with an ethnic Nepali majority. Sikkim has 11 official languages: Nepali (which is its lingua franca), Bhutia, Lepcha, Limbu,Newari, Rai, Gurung, Magar, Sherpa, Tamang and Sunwar. English is taught in schools and used in government documents. The predominant religions are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Sikkim's economy is largely dependent on agriculture and tourism, and as of 2012 the state has the third-smallest GDP among Indian states, although it is also among the fastest-growing.
The most widely accepted origin theory of the name Sikkim is that it is a combination of two Limbu words: su, which means "new", and khyim, which means "palace" or "house". The name is believed to be a reference to the palace built by the state's first ruler, Phuntsog Namgyal. The Tibetan name for Sikkim isDenjong, which means "valley of rice", while the Bhutias call it Beyul Demazong, which means '"the hidden valley of rice". The Lepcha people, the original inhabitants of Sikkim, called it Nye-mae-el, meaning "paradise". In Hindu religious texts, Sikkim is known as Indrakil, the garden of the war godIndra. -------------------------------------------------
Main article: History of Sikkim
Founding of the monarchy
Little is known about Sikkim's ancient history, beyond the fact that its original inhabitants were the Lepcha. The earliest historical mention of Sikkim is a record of the passage of the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche through the land in the 8th century AD. The Guru is reported to have blessed the land, introducedBuddhism, and foretold the era of monarchy that would arrive in Sikkim centuries later. However, Dr. Sailen Debnath writes that the Tibetan Emperor Srongtsen Gampo had occupied Sikkim and Bhutan prior to Rinpoche's arrival, and that a Tibetan military establishment was constructed at Gangdoz (present-day Gangtok). In the 14th century, according to legend, Khye Bumsa, a prince from the Minyak House in Kham in eastern Tibet, received a divine revelation instructing him to travel south to seek his fortunes. A fifth-generation descendant of Khye Bumsa, Phuntsog Namgyal, became the founder of Sikkim's monarchy in 1642, when he was consecrated as the first Chogyal, or priest-king, of Sikkim by the three venerated lamas at Yuksom.
Statue of Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim. The statue in Namchi is the tallest statue of the saint in the world, at 36 metres (120 ft). Phuntsog Namgyal was succeeded in 1670 by his son, Tensung...
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