Sikkim borders the Tibet Autonomous Region of China in the north and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west, and West Bengal in the south. Sikkim is also close to India’s Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh. The Tibetan name for Sikkim is Drenjong (Wylie-translation: bras ljongs), meaning “Valley of Rice”, while the Bhutias call it Beyul Demazong, meaning “the Hidden Valley of Rice”. According to folklore, after establishing Rabdentse as his new capital, Bhutia king Tensung Namgyal built a palace and asked his Limbu Queen to name it. The Lepcha people, the original inhabitants of Sikkim, called it Nye-mae-el, meaning “paradise”.
The Lepchas are considered to be the earliest inhabitants of Sikkim. However, the Limbus and the Magars also lived in the inaccessible parts of West and South districts as early as the Lepchas lived in the East and North districts. The Buddhist saint Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, is said to have passed through the land in the 8th century. The Guru is reported to have blessed the land, introduced Buddhism, and foretold the era of monarchy that would arrive in Sikkim centuries later.