Asian Monarchies/Indian Princely States: Sikkim

Figure 1.--This is Crown Prince Tenzing, son of the 12th Chogyal and Sangey Deki, daughter of Yapshi Samdu Phodrang of Tibet. The Crown Prince after the abolition of the monarchy died in a automobile crash (1978(.

Sikkim might be called both an Asian monarchy and an Indian princely state. Like Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet, it was a Himilayan kingdom on the cultural border between India and China. Guru Tashi, a Tibetian prince of the Minyak Dynasty entered Sikkim from the Kham district of Tibet. He founded the Namgyal (Chogyal) Monarchy. The Chogyal, meaning king or divine ruler, were the country's absolute rulers (1642-1975). This was similar to Bhutan where a related dynasty ruled. The modern history of Sikkim has been dominated by efforts by neighboring Nepal to conquer and absorb Sikkim. This began with border raids and was followed by actual invasion and territorial seizures. During the reign of Tenzing Namgyal (sixth Chogyal), Nepal invaded and occupied substantial areas of Sikkim (18th century). When the Nepali reached Rabdanste, the Chogyal fled north to Tibet seeking Chinese protection. The eboldened Nepali next began attacking areas in Tibet proper. This caused the Chinese to intervene, defeating the invading Nepali forces, but not occupying Napal. The resulting Sino-Nepal treaty resulted in the loss of small aeeas, but restored the Chogyal to the throne (1793). Tenzing Namgyal died in Lasha, Tibet, but his son Tsudphud Namgyal was sent to Sikkim and enthroned as Chogyal. While the Nepali subsequently refrained from attacking Tibet to the north, they continued attacks on India and Neal to the south and deast. By this time India was largely controlled by the British East India Company. The British seeking to stabilize the situation along the northern border, cultivated relations with Sikkim. And the Chogyal saw the British as needed support against the Nepali Gorkhas. The British defeated the Nepali in the Anglo-Nepalese War fought at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe (1814-16). The Treaty of Sigauli broughpeace to the northern border. The British restored lost territory to Sikkim in the Treaty of Titalia. Sikkim became a British protectorate (1890). When India granted independence to India (1947), Sikkim unlike most of the princely states became independent. The Kingdom turned over responsibility for defense, foreign relations, and communications to India (1950). Magharaja Gyalsay Palden Thondup Nangyal became Chogyal (1965). He married an American, Hope Cook (1963). Sikkim because if the growing unpopularity of the monarchy voted to abrogated it and join India (1975). It is now the second smallest Indian state.


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Created: 6:29 PM 12/18/2011
Last updated: 6:30 PM 12/18/2011