I am Sikkim, a land that borders three nations: China, Bhutan, and Nepal. I proudly became a part of the Indian union in 1975. My economic growth rate has been tremendous, and in terms of GDP per capita, I have overtaken Goa, becoming the state with the highest GDP per capita. Additionally, I rank high in terms of the Human Development Index. The people living in my land are examples of sustainability, maintaining a perfect balance between socio-economic and environmental factors. I am a carbon-neutral land, and I am proudly striving towards a carbon-negative aim.
My landscapes are dominated by mountain peaks like Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, situated on my western border. The namesake national park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to endangered snow leopards, Himalayan black bears, red pandas, and over 500 species of birds. Over 200 rare bird species, including the beautiful satyr tragopan and rufous-necked hornbill, can be spotted in my forests. My high-altitude meadows burst with rhododendrons and orchids during spring. Ancient monasteries and quaint hill towns dot my Himalayan foothills. Sacred lakes and hot springs attract spiritual pilgrims.
I am known as the Land of Orchids for my over 500 orchid species. My people live in harmony with nature, protecting fragile ecosystems like tropical broadleaf forests, alpine meadows, and wetlands that nurture diverse wildlife. However, excessive tourism can sometimes threaten my fragile ecosystem.
Ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples adorn my landscape, with famous ones like Pemayangtse and Tashiding known for their traditional artwork and architecture. These reflect my culture, shaped by the Lepcha, Limboo, Bhutia, and Nepali communities who consider me their home. You can also visit Okharey village in the western part of Sikkim, home to Sherpas, the community known for its great support during mountaineering activities. Sherpas are often referred to as the epitome of ‘support’. Festivals like Losar, Loosong, Bhumchu, Saga Dawa, Dasai, Tihar, and more are celebrated by my people. My land flourishes with absolute communal harmony.
Adventure seekers flock to me for activities like trekking, mountaineering, river rafting, paragliding, and more. My mesmerizing high-altitude lakes and hot springs attract travelers seeking solitude. Places like Gurudongmar Lake, Yumthang Valley, and Nathula Pass connect me to Tibet’s cultures. Local handicrafts and cuisine add to my charm. Preserving indigenous art forms and cultural identity is a challenge, but we are working towards building a sustainable future.
The impact of climate change is more pronounced in my land due to the fact that the sky belongs to no one. Pollution from different countries, as well as smoke from factories across the nation and other countries, has accumulated here, causing damage to my fragile ecosystem. The South Lhonak Outburst was a recent example of this.
I am considered a Beyul (sacred hidden land) by Buddhists and Indrakeel (Indra’s Garden) by Hindus. I am also a sacred land of the Kiratis. Arjuna from the Mahabharata came to seek blessings for the war, and Kirateshwar Shiva blessed him with divine weapons at Legship Mandir. Both in terms of spirituality and tourism, my landscapes have great potential, offering both aesthetics and enlightenment.
However, the glaciers, which are considered gods by the native Lepchas and other indigenous communities, are rapidly melting. There is an estimate that there are many critical glacial lakes that can burst, causing damage to lives. This matter is highly concerning.
I can proudly say that my land is the land of love, where most marriages happen as love marriages. Women’s empowerment is at its highest here, with an amazing participation rate of women in the workforce. Soon, the workforce participation will reach 50%-50% for both males and females. Currently, 95% of married women in Sikkim participate in household decisions. However, we are also currently facing the highest infertility rate, and the government is providing incentives to encourage more childbirth. For political history, you can visit Gadi Mandir at Central Pendam where you will see how a woman named Pendi Ongmu rebelled against her king brother and made plans to take the throne from there. She nearly became the women ruler of Sikkim; however, I am afraid you may need to read more about history, as people are not caring about it.
Sometimes I observe that my youth are inclined towards bad habits, such as drug use, which is entirely wrong. The youth should understand that frustration is normal in life, but moving in a negative direction will cause more harm in the long term. Dear youths, it’s up to you to make Sikkim as Sikkim, I am Sikkim. I don’t want to be Switzerland; I want to be the original Sikkim. I only ask for this. Have a great life. Love you all.