The landlocked state of Sikkim is situated in the Himalayan mountains and connected to the rest of India by the state of West Bengal. Second smallest to the state of Goa, Sikkim is a popular destination for both locals and foreigners as it is steeped with an affluent mix of cultures, abundance of natural beauty and has a rich biodiversity. Being located in the Himalayan mountains, Sikkim’s landscape is notable for its distinctive mountainous terrain and the state is home to the world’s third highest mountain, the Kangchenjunga. In the foreground of these mountains are quaint, abstract patterned terrace farms, stream-carved river valleys, hot springs renowned for their thereaputic qualities, and spans of forests. The music of Sikkim is particularly distinctive, being a characteristic fusion of folk Lepcha music and indigenous Nepali rock genres.
Sikkim boasts an opulent history that begins in ancient times when the state was known as Indrakil, the valley garden of war God, Indra. Another legendary tale tells of Buddhist guru, Padmasambhaya, introducing Buddhism to Sikkim and predicting the reign of the Sikkimese monarchy upon his visit to the state in the 8th century. Indeed, from 1642 to 1975, Sikkim’s Chogyal monarchs ruled the region, before it became an ally of British India. The name ‘Sikkim’ even suggests the state’s regal history. Derived from the Limbu words su and khyim, respectively meaning ‘new’ and ‘palace’, it referenced the palace of the Sikkim’s first ruler, Phuntsog Namgyal.
The grandeur of Sikkim’s history is preserved in the traditional customs and crafts, showcased by the indigenous Lepcha people of the state. Lepcha craftswomen are exceptional handloom weavers of both traditional and contemporary plain and intricate patterns. Natural dyes continue to be used in authentic and eco-friendly dyeing methods of the fine cotton yarns. Weaving, though Sikkim’s most prominent textile craft, is actually one amongst many that is held in high esteem. Thankas, a traditional form of tapestry, leather work, applique and batik also feature in many traditional and modern fabrics, cloths and garments.