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Sikkim and Years of Change
on the Himalayan Ridges
Story and Photos by Sayan Chuenudomsavad
Click to Bigger     Sikkim is the 22nd state of India, situated in the northernmost part of the country. Although Sikkim is tiny, only 7,096 square kilometers, its strategic position between the Indian and the Chinese empires makes it a highly sensitive political area. Surveillance on immigration and restrictions on tourists' travel as well as military camps and checkpoints throughout the state are all part of the Indian government's attempt to maintain a level of security.
Click to Bigger     The smiles and friendly eyes of the Sikkimese themselves, however, show that these stern and intimidating processes of government and law are neither the product nor character of the local people at all. While every other tourist' s eyes scanning Sikkim's misty Himalayan range eventually dwell on Kanchenjunga, the third highest mount in the world, awed by its challenging height, the people of Sikkim see the mount as a sacred temple of god. Folklore of the Lepchas, believed to be the original inhabitants of Sikkim, tells of how humans came to be in this region by the powers of a god who resided on its summit.
    From a legendary origin, Sikkim entered reality as the Nepalese invaded their land, and later when the British appeared. During the colonial era Sikkim was under British rule. When India gained independence, the state became a protectorate of India. And eventually, after an inner dispute and a vote by the population, it became India's 22nd state. Perhaps this is the fate of independence for such a small community with such natural riches and in such a critical location.
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Ten Years' Fighting for the Mun River | Leatherback Turtles Return | Sikkim and Years of Change on the Himalayan Ridges
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