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History of Sikkim

History of Sikkim reflects the past of the territory of Sikkim. Sikkim has a rich past that sings the praise of the past events and kingdoms that ruled in the territory of Sikkim.

Although much is not known about the ancient history in Sikkim, it is evident that three tribes namely, Naong, Mon and Chang resided within the territory of Sikkim. But, these tribes could not retain their dominance over Sikkim for long; the Lepchas replaced the aforesaid tribes soon after they entered the territory of Sikkim.

The coming of the Lepchas and their settlement and combat with the aborigines of Sikkim constitute a major part of the early Sikkim history. But, the modern history of Sikkim is said to have begun in 1641.

Furthermore, with the arrival of the British in India, Sikkim allied with the British Empire to keep the Nepalese at bay. But, the collaboration of Sikkim with the British led them to suffer dire consequences.

Moreover, the history at Sikkim states that in 1947, after India got its Independence, Sikkim emerged as a special protectorate under the India Union. But, after the death of Tashi Namgyal, political ranks in Sikkim started crumbling down.

Prolonged agitation in Sikkimese led to the formation of an associate State, i. e. Sikkim was transformed from a protectorate state to an associate State of the Indian Union. On 4th September, 1947,Kazi Lendup Dorji was made the Chief Minister of the State. Finally, on 16th May, 1975, Sikkim became a part of the Indian Union and the institution of Chogyals were completely abolished.

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Kingdom of Sikkim

Kingdom of Sikkim started in the 13th century on a formal basis. Guru Tashi, the exile prince of the Minyang dynasty of Tibet, is generally accorded the status of being the founder of the kingdom in Sikkim. He assimilated the Lepchas and the resident tribes into a kingdom and his descendants formally initiated the rule of the Chogyal kingdom at Sikkim.

Early Days of the Kingdom of Tibet

The name of Guru Rinpoche is integrally connected to the history of Sikkim. The Buddhist preceptor traveled through Sikkim as early as in the ninth century and prophesied a kingdom to come, that would unite the discordant tribes into one sovereign head. His prophecy was fulfilled when Guru Tashi, the Tibetan prince entered Sikkim, on the basis of a divine revelation. He assimilated the Lepchas and the other tribes and founded the bedrock on which the future of the kingdom of Sikkim was to grow.

The Chogyals of Sikkim

The Chogyals were the kings of Sikkim. The first Chogyal of Sikkim was Phuntsog Namgyal, the fifth in the line of Guru Tashi. He was appointed as the king of Sikkim in the Yuksom, the historic conference of three lamas who came to Norbugang in West Sikkim from three corners of the state to grace the occasion. He was succeeded in the throne by Tensung Namgyal, the second monarch in the kingdom of Sikkim. His reign was peaceful, but chaos prevailed soon after his death, following the succession of his son by his second wife, Chadok Namgyal to the throne. Thereafter, kingship became a bone of succession in Sikkim. The kingdom in Sikkim was plagued by the intrusion of many foreign powers, including the Bhutanese, the Nepalese and the Tibetans. Things reached a catastrophe with the exile of Tenzing Namgyal to Lhasa. It was in 1793, that his son Tshudpud Namgyal came back to Sikkim to reclaim the throne. tag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1536815261965-0'); });
Puppet state

The puppet state of Sikkim was a result of the British insurgency in the state following the arrest of two doctors who entered into the kingdom unannounced and ventured to roam in the mountains without any prior permission of the Chogyal. A punishment raid of the British army followed, resulting in the annexation of Darjeeling and Morang. Thereafter, the chogyals were forced to maintain something of a puppet state in Sikkim, in a small region surrounding Gangtok.

The Ten Clauses Agreement

The Chogyals of what was by then the puppet state of Sikkim continued to maintain a steady rule in the small region around its new capital at Gangtok. However, it was not enough to curb the Tibetan attacks that the region faced in 1886. The Chogyal, Thutob Namgyal and his wife came to hold negotiations with the British in Calcutta, but were held prisoners. The British themselves took to the sword in 1888, the Tibetans were routed and the king was restored as something of a puppet king in the state of Sikkim. The Ten Clauses Agreement returned the sovereign to the puppet state Sikkim, but the king was allowed to have only judicial rights and nothing else of the monarchy that they erstwhile had.

Sidkeong Tulku

Sidkeong Tulku was the Crown Prince of Sikkim, when the Prince of Wales visited Calcutta in 1905. The princes befriended each other, a relationship that continued when the Prince went on to study at the Oxford University. It coincided with the time, when his old friend the Prince of Wales went on to become the King of England - assuming the appellation of George V. Soon after completing his studies abroad, Sidkeong came back to the puppet state of Sikkim and promptly introduced many reforms to change the entire social structure of the state for the better. His reign was short, but witnessed many changes. After his death in 1914, the puppet state at Sikkim was restored independence in 1918.

Independent monarchy

The second phase of the independent monarchy in Sikkim started after the British granted full sovereign freedom to the state in 1918. However, problems started to brew soon after the attainment of the Indian independence in 1947. The new government of India under Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru conducted a popular poll in Sikkim to gather public opinion for Sikkim's joining India. The results went against it and the independent monarchy in Sikkim was allowed to persist. However, India maintained the external defense, communication and diplomacy of the independent monarchy at Sikkim.

The Indo-China War

The war between India and China had a direct repercussion on the rule of the independent monarchy in Sikkim. The border was a volatile combat zone. The results that went against India resulted in the closing of the Nathula Pass by the Chinese government, which would open as late as in 2006. The assumption of power by Smt. Indira Gandhi and the reign of the last hereditary Chogyal, Palden Thondup Namgyal led to new problems. The situation was complicated and took international dimensions after Hope Cook, the wife of the king wrote on it to attract international attention on the problems that plagued the independent monarchy of Sikkim. Amidst this controversy, the Sikkim National Congress Party came into existence in 1970, with a greater representation of Nepalese, and raising voices for a termination of Sikkim independent monarchy.

The End of Independent Monarchy in Sikkim

As anti-monarchical voices gathered force, the Kazi, or the Prime Minister of Sikkim, appealed to the Indian parliament for a change of Sikkim's independent status in 1975 and expressed the wish of the inhabitants to be a part of the Indian statehood. Steps followed each other, and was formalized in 1975. The United Nations was quick to recognize this change, except China. The office of the Independent monarchy in Sikkim was abolished in 1982.

Last Updated on : 7 March 2013