Sikkim- its legendary past  

Not much of Sikkim?s past is authenticated or well documented. Though it is clear enough that Sikkim has been greatly influenced by Tibet. No wonder we still find a remarkable semblance between Sikkim and Tibet pertaining to culture, religion, language and numerous other aspects.


History relates that way back in the 13th century a prince called Guru Tashi along with his family had reached a Sakya kingdom amidst their wanderings on their way to Denzong (the hidden valley of rice). A monastery was being built here and the workers were finding it impossible to erect pillars. The eldest son of Guru Tashi had then raised the pillars all by himself and thus became known as Khye Bumsa, the superior of ten thousand heroes.


It was here that Khye Bumsa had been married to the Sakya king?s daughter and the couple had settled down in Chumbi valley. Meanwhile the couple had been issueless and Khye Bumsa had heard of the religious Lepcha chief Tetong Tek of Gangtok. Khye Bumsa had then travelled all the way to Gangtok and met the holy man. He sought blessings from him and in course of time bore three sons. The bond between the two had grown, Khye Bumsa had been meeting the Lepcha chief a couple of times and finally this liaison had grown into the famous treaty of blood brotherhood between the Lepchas and the Bhutias at Kabi Longstok. Guru Tashi, the grandson of Khye Bumsa had relocated his family and tribe to Gangtok while over the years the Lepchas had disintegrated into numerous smaller clans and had later come to be patronized by the descendents of Guru Tashi.


In the seventeenth century Lama Lhatsun Chenpo had wandered into Sikkim fired by the zeal of establishing a Buddhist monarchy at Denzong. The Lama belonged to the Red Hat sect of Tibet and numerous followers of this sect had already been fleeing the kingdom on being persecuted by the Yellow Hat sect. They had made inroads into neighbouring Bhutan and Sikkim. At long last Lama Lhatsun Chenpo had arrived at a place called Norbugang in Sikkim where he had met the two other holy men, Sempa Chenpo and Rinzing Chenpo. They place of their legendary meeting came to be known as Yuksom meaning the meeting place of the three superior ones.


Somehow the three had to fulfill their goal of establishing a Buddhist monarchy in that country. And so the search for a king had begun with a party heading to the East in search of a man called Phuntshog. Incidentally, Phuntshog happened to be the great grandson of Guru Tashi.


It was in the year 1642 AD that the first king of Sikkim was formally consecrated at Yuksom by the three holy monks. Phuntshog became known as the ?Chogyal? or ?the king who rules with righteousness? and was also offered the surname ?Namgyal?.


So the era of monarchy in Sikkim had been born with this historic coronation. Phuntshog Namgyal and the three monks had set onto the task of unifying all the Lepcha clans under the common Buddhist banner. Meanwhile Yuksom was made into the first capital of Sikkim. It was during this time that the name ?Sikkim? had evolved which had its root in the Limbu word ?Su? ?Khin? which meant new house.


Phuntshog Namgyal who ruled from 1642 ? 1670 AD was succeeded by a descendent line of eleven rulers until the last Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal during whose reign the kingdom merged with the Indian union in 1975. Later Kings who ruled Sikkim


Tensung Namgyal (1670 ? 1700 AD)
Son and heir of Phuntshog Namgyal. Succeeded his father in 1670 AD. Shifted his capital from Yuksom to Rabdentse near Gyalshing.


Chakdor Namgyal (1700 ? 1717 AD)
The brilliant king who patronized and choreographed mask dances and also holds credit for innovating the Lepcha language. Had a troubled reign owing to his half sister Pede Ongmu who later had him murdered while he was sick at the Ralong hot springs in 1760 AD. He had succeeded his father in 1700 AD but had to flee Sikkim as his half sister in connivance with the Bhutanese forces had occupied Rabdentse but later managed to wrest it back from them with help from the Tibetans.

  Gyurmed Namgyal (1717 ? 1733 AD)
Uneventful reign. Was succeeded by his illegal son Phuntshok Namgyal.

Phuntshok Namgyal (1733 ? 1780 AD)
During his reign the Bhutanese had grown ambitious and so had the Gorkhas. But somehow he managed to save his kingdom.


Tenzing Namgyal (1780 ? 1793 AD)
The Nepalese occupied Rabdentse and the Chogyal had to flee to Tibet. The Nepalese grew more ambitious and attacked further into Tibet but were driven back owing to Chinese intervention. With the Sino-Nepal treaty Sikkim lost some of its land to Nepal but monarchy was restored. Tenzing Namgyal died in Lhasa and was succeeded by his son Tsugphud Namgyal.


Tsugphud Namgyal (1793 ? 1863 AD)
Shifted the capital from Rabdentse to Tumlong. It was during his reign that Darjeeling was gifted to the British to build a sanatorium for a certain annual sum and the treaty of Titalya was also signed between the British and Sikkim in 1817 following which all the territories annexed by the Nepalese were restored to Sikkim.

  Sidkeong Namgyal (1863 ? 1874 AD)
Succeeded Tsugphud Namgyal in 1863 AD. Died issueless and was succeeded by his half brother Thutob Namgyal.

Thutob Namgyal (1874 ? 1914 AD)
The British had become paramount power during his reign and wielded unrestrained power. Claude White was then appointed as the first Political Officer in Sikkim in 1889 AD and the Chogyal lay completely dominated by him. There was a heavy influx of Nepalese during this time for the purposes of farming and Claude White thus introduced the system of marking certain lands that could not be sold to the Nepalese in order to safeguard the interests of the Lepchas and the Bhutias. Thutob Namgyal shifted his capital from Tumlong to present day Gangtok in 1894 AD. The STNM hospital built in 1917 is dedicated to him.

  Sidkeong Tulku
Enthroned in 1914 AD but unfortunately died the same year.

Tashi Namgyal (1914 ? 1963 AD)
The half brother of Sidkeong Tulku he came to the throne in 1914 after the death of his brother. Created many reforms in the kingdom.


Palden Thondup Namgyal (1963 ? 1975 AD)
During his reign the agitation for removal of monarchy began and by 1973 this clamour for democracy had grown threateningly. Sikkim transformed from a Protectorate to an Associate state. On 4th September 1974, Kazi Lhendup Dorjee was elected as the first chief minister of Sikkim as leader of the Sikkim Congress. But the Chogyal remained as the constitutional head of the new system. But the new system only caused much tension and trouble between the Chogyal and the new government and so ultimately on 16th May 1975 Sikkim merged into the India union as the 22nd state.


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