Sikkim is unique as being a rare stronghold of the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism for this is where they took shelter and propagated their faith following persecution in Tibet hundreds of years before. Until its official merger with India in 1975, Sikkim was a Buddhist kingdom under a Nyingmapa ruler for over three hundred years. In witness to the fact, more than two hundred monasteries can be found around this tiny Himalayan state.
Till the 17th century, Sikkim was inhabited by the Lepcha, the aborigines of Sikkim, having cultural and linguistic affinities with the tribes of Northern Burma. They lived off the natural produces of the earth and practiced animism. They called their land, "Nye Mayel Lyang," meaning ‘the land of fairies,’ or paradise. From AD 1642 till 1975, Sikkim became a Buddhist kingdom ruled by the Namgyal dynasty who came from Tibet. Thereafter, a peoples revolution demanded merger with the Indian Union, and Sikkim became the 22nd. state of India.
Darjeeling and its district, the Autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council of West Bengal, India, has seen its historical development in another unique fashion. Vied by the British conquistadors in the early nineteenth century, it was confiscated from Sikkim and developed as a summer resort for the British rulers of east India. Here one will find relics of the British Raj in quaint English country cottages and bungalows, steepled churches and buildings amidst wafts of cool mountain breeze.
Adding to the grandeur of this region is the mighty Khangchendzonga range. Standing aloft on the northwestern horizon one is able to gaze into probably the most alluring set of mountains in all of the Himalayas; as viewed from the hill tops of Darjeeling district and Sikkim.