Kingdom of Sikkim

The Kingdom of Sikkim (Classical Tibetan and Sikkimese: འབྲས་ལྗོངས།, Drenjong), officially Dremoshong (Classical Tibetan and Sikkimese: འབྲས་མོ་གཤོངས།) until the 1800s, was a hereditary monarchy in the Eastern Himalayas which existed from 1642 to 16 May 1975, when it merged with the Republic of India. It was ruled by Chogyals of the Namgyal dynasty.[4]

Kingdom of Sikkim
འབྲས་ལྗོངས། (Sikkimese)
འབྲས་མོ་གཤོངས། (Classical Tibetan)
ᰕᰚᰬᰯ ᰜᰤᰴ (Lepcha)
Mayel Lyang
Coat of arms
Motto: "Oh, the jewel of creation is in the Lotus"[1]
Anthem: Drenjong Silé Yang Chhagpa Chilo[2]
"Why is Sikkim Blooming So Fresh and Beautiful?"
Kingdom of Sikkim
  • Protectorate of Tibet (until 1890)
  • Tributary State of Qing China (1791–1890)
    • Bhutanese domination (1680/1700–1792)
    • Nepalese domination (1776–1792)
    • Nepalese-Bhutanese presence (1792–1816)
    • British presence (1816–1890)
  • Protectorate of the British Empire (1861–1947)[3]
  • Protectorate of India (1950–1975)
Official languagesChöke, Sikkimese
Common languagesLepcha (early period), Dzongkha, Nepali (late period)
Tibetan Buddhism
Demonym(s)Drenjop, Sikkimese
GovernmentAbsolute monarchy (until 1973)
Parliamentary constitutional monarchy (1973–1975)
 1642–1670 (first)
Phuntsog Namgyal
 1963–1975 (last)
Palden Thondup Namgyal
LegislatureState Council of Sikkim
 Treaty of Titalia signed
 Darjeeling given to British India
 Palden Thondup Namgyal forced to abdicate
 Merger with India
16 May 1975
Succeeded by
Today part ofIndia


Nepalese-Bhutanese domination

In the mid-18th century, Sikkim was invaded by both Nepal (then the Gorkha Kingdom) and Bhutan (then ruled by Gedun Chomphel) and was under both the Gorkha and the Bhutanese rule for more than 40 years. Between 1775 and 1815, almost 180,000 ethnic Nepalis[5] from Eastern and Central Nepal migrated to Sikkim. After the British colonisation of India, however, Sikkim allied itself with British India as they had a common enemy – Nepal. The infuriated Nepalese attacked Sikkim with vengeance, overrunning most of the region including the Terai. This prompted the British East India Company to attack Nepal in 1814, resulting in the Anglo-Nepalese War. The Sugauli Treaty between Britain and Nepal and the Treaty of Titalia between Sikkim and British India resulted in territorial concessions by Nepal, which ceded Sikkim to British India.[6]

British and Indian protectorate

Map of Sikkim, 1898

Under the 1861 Treaty of Tumlong, Sikkim became a British protectorate, then an Indian protectorate in 1950.[7]

Thutob Namgyal, the 9th Chogyal of Sikkim, looked to the Dalai Lama for spiritual leadership and during his reign the Tibetan government started to regain political influence over Sikkim. In 1888 the British sent a military expedition to expel Tibetan forces from Sikkim.

Accession to India

In 1975, allegations of discrimination against Nepali Hindus in Sikkim led to resentment against the Chogyal.[8][9] Their instigation led to Indian Army personnel moving into Gangtok. According to Sunanda K. Datta-Ray of The Statesman, the army killed the palace guards and surrounded the palace in April 1975.[7]

After disarming the palace, a referendum on the monarchy was held, in which the Sikkimese people overwhelmingly voted to abolish the monarchy, and the new parliament of Sikkim, led by Kazi Lhendup Dorjee, proposed a bill for Sikkim to become an Indian state, which was promptly accepted by the Government of India.[7][10]

Culture and religion

In culture and religion, Sikkim was linked closely with Tibet, from which its first king migrated, and Bhutan, with which it shares borders. The presence of a large ethnic Nepali population, mainly from eastern and central Nepal, also leads to cultural linkages with Nepal.

See also



  1. "Sikkim / Dämojong".
  2. Hiltz, Constructing Sikkimese National Identity 2003, p. 80–81.
  3. According to Article II of Convention of Calcutta, Sikkim was a direct protectorate of the British Government, not the British Indian government.
  4. Marathe, Om (20 August 2019). "Explained: Sikkim, from Chogyal rule to Indian state". The Indian Express. Retrieved 13 November 2022.
  5. Chettri, Mona (2013). "Ethnic politics in the Nepali public sphere three casesfrom the eastern Himalaya" (PDF). SOAS Research Online. Retrieved 13 November 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. "History of Nepal: A Sovereign Kingdom". Official website of Nepal Army. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011.
  7. "Indian hegemonism drags Himalayan kingdom into oblivion". Nikkei Asian Review. Nikkei. 21 February 2016. Archived from the original on 3 April 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  8. Larmer, Brook (March 2008). "Bhutan's Enlightened Experiment". National Geographic. Bhutan. (print version).
  9. "25 years after Sikkim". Nepali Times. No. #35. 23–29 March 2001.
  10. Sethi, Sunil (18 February 2015). "Treaties: Annexation of Sikkim". No. 2. India Today. India Today. Retrieved 4 December 2016.


Further reading

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