Old Settlers

People from the plains have contributed immensely to the state. Here is a list of some families who have been in Sikkim for generations.

Thiranis

It was around 1873   Shri Dulichand Thirani was asked to accompany British Army to facilitate them for their supplies  By   1877-80   he was given shop space in Palace Compound by the than  Maharaja of SIKKIM.  He was further made one of the Five Panchayat Members of SIKKIM  which  was the highest respect and most powerful post awarded by the than Maharaja of SIKKIM. His son Shri Bherudan Thirani  developed Big Cardamom Trade. One of the  descendents Durga Thirani has  immensely contributed  to Development of Trade, Commerce and Social activities and served in various capacities like Founder President of SIKKIM  Chamber of Commerce, Founder member Sikkim Football Association. He Produced the first ever Colour Nepali Feature Film named Mashal with the assistance of Mr. Danny Denzongpa.

Ramdas

Ramdas Ram Ramphal Ram came to Sikkim from Bihar and started business in the year 1899 at Samdur Busty.

They were pioneers in the field of liquor. They distilled and supplied it through various outlets in Sikkim. Theirs was the only shop which supplied imported liquors like Scotch, Cognac, Sherry and Wine to reputed families including “The Darbar”. They also supplied food grains, salt, edible oil and had a shop at Yatung in Tibet in the name and styled as “Rama Store”.

They also contributed to the local people’s welfare by providing them with employment and help in times of calamities. The fifth generation of this family continues to prosper.

Lakhotias

ShriGopalchandLakhotia first came to Sikkim in the 1890s as a partner of ShriChetramSarda who had a shop on Ridge Road, Gangtok.  He had left Marwar, Rajputana, as the land was slowly turning to desert. Moving from his ancestral farm in Dadrewa to Digharla, then to Chubkeytal before venturing to Calcutta, he eventually travelled upcountry to Sikkim.  After setting up a business here, he died young leaving behind his wife SmtMohra Devi and three children. The doughty lady ran the business with the help of her brothers whom she had invited for assistance, till MotiLall, her eldest son took charge.  With the blessings and patronage of the erstwhile Royal Family,MotiLall set up the first general store in Penlong Private Estate in partnership with SurajmulMundra and were early entrants in the fledgling cardamom business.  MotiLall was a pioneer in the Tibet Trade specializing in disassembling motor cycles and automobiles in Gangtok, transporting them by head loads over NathuLa to Tibet where they were reassembled and sold.  This flourishing trade abruptly came to an end after the Indo-China war in 1961. MotiLall and his brother HariKishen then set up the Gangtoks’ first movie theatre, Denzong, in 1962. They also set up Gangtok Auto Works then the most modern garage in Gangtok.  Later they set up Hotel TashiDelek, the first ‘four star’ hotel in North East India.  MotiLall’s pioneering contribution to Sikkim’s economy has been recognized by leading periodicals of India and twice by the State Government of Sikkim.

Oberois

Tirath Ram Oberoi, fondly known to all Sikkimies as Tirtha Ram Sardar came to Sikkim from Chakwal, Rawalpindi in Punjab ( now Pakistan) in 1932.

He worked as a supervisor with the PWD till 1937 after that he became a (class IA) contractor with CPWD, SPWD, MES. He has constructed roads, buildings, bridges all over Sikkim. He has worked in Assam, Bengal & Nepal as well. He had a small house near Gai Dhara, NH near Martam Dak Bunglow under Sang Martam before he shifted to Gangtok. Oberoi’s have five generations who lived in Sikkim. .

Sardas

Shri Jorawarmull Sarda with his family entered Sikkim in 1889. Their first stop was at Pakyong in the present East District and then in 1900 extended their business to Gangtok where the Palace had just been established under the able King Chogyal Thutob Namgyal.

Their shop was just a few yards from the Palace gate, towards the North side. In the next 2-3 years another six shops came up. These shops mainly catered to The Palace and the adjacent small population. The population of Gangtok then was not more than 2000.

Shri Jorawarmull Sarda had two sons and two daughter. The two sons namely Shri Nopchand and Shri Daulatram Sarda later formed their shops in the Old market (now M G Road) in 1935. Shri Nopchand Sarda had one son namely Shri Gajanand Sarda who looked after both the Gangtok and Pakyong shops and Shri Daulatram Sarda established two shops with his two sons namely Shri Rameshwar lal Sarda and Shri Prayag Chand Sarda – the famous â€ÜSikkim Sarda & Co.’ was one of them, where one could get any item of consumption or hardware – from Pin to Pillow to Iron. Both Shri Nopchand Sarda and Shri Daulatram sarda had one daughter each.

In the 1950’s India and China decided to open trade route through Sikkim to meet the requirements of Tibet, which was a sovereign country but was under the direct influence of Peking( China). The Indian Trade Agent was set up at Yatung and Phaari in the Chumbi Valley to smoothen the Import- Export practices. The Political Office in Gangtok used to issue the Travel Pass as well as permit to import or export goods to Tibet from India through Sikkim. Sikkim rose to high business activity during this period (1955-1962). The sleepy old market ( M G Road) rose up to activity and almost all the shopkeepers opened their shop at Yatung and a few of their friends from Kalimpong also joined the bandwagon. Everything from Pin to trucks were exported to Tibet and Yak hair, wool, kasturi, butter, herbs were imported. The balance payment was made though Chinese silver dollars after adjusting value of other imported products.

An interesting feature of trade was then-Trucks were brought from India to Gangtok by road,were dismantled and then carried on mules and with the help of labourers to Yatung via Nathula Pass, where it was reassembled and put on the Tibet Plateau for driving.

The family of Late Daulatram Sarda also established shops at Yatung under the name â€ÜGeneral Stores’, and in Phhari in Tibet. The business was very lucrative and they worked hard to make their fortune.

And then suddenly one night in June 1962, the Chinese gave orders to all Indian merchants to exit Tibet within the next 48 hours. Sky fell on the merchants and also on Prayag Chand and Rameshwar lal Sarda. All the 200 shops of Indian merchants had to packed up in the next 48 hours and most of them left Chumbi Valley leaving behind most of the stock which yet remains to be settled by the Chinese Government.

The Good times were very short lived.

As time passed, â€ÜSikkim Sarda & Co.’ became more concentrated to the needs of the students for the next 50 years till 1985 when it converted into a fashion and jewellery shop as the command changed from old stalwarts to their Sons- Shri Surendra Kumar Sarda and Shri Vijay Kumar Sarda. Shri S K Sarda expanded to Distribution of consumer goods FMCG (Colgate, Johnson, Marico, Dabur, TTK, etc) and Vijay continued with the fashion shop.

 

The other wing down streamed from Shri Gajanand Sarda continued with the medicine shop known for quality medicines under the name â€ÜLife Line Medicos’ looked after by Shri Chagganlal Sarda and his brothers. Socially, Shri Chhaganlal Sarda was very active in Sikkim.

Shri Surendra Kumar Sarda (better known as S K Sarda) was the General Secretary of The Divine Life Society, Sikkim Branch (1980 to 1992) and during his tenure and under the able guidance of Shri T C Verma and their family conducted more than 12 grand Yoga classes of 7 days duration each, where more than 3000 young and old got trained in YOGA. It goes to the credit of The Divine Life Society which brought the culture of Yoga from the Swami Sivananda Ashram of Rishikesh to the Himalayan state of Sikkim.

Later, S K Sarda joined in 1992 the Chinmaya Mission, a vedantic group founded by Swami Chinmayananda which propagated the ancient culture of Upanishad and Vedanta in Sikkim and organised study classes, Geeta Gyana yagas by inviting Bramacharis and Yogis who has great knowledge of the Rishi culture of India.

Guptas

Late R.K. Gupta was picked up by J.S. Lal, ICS, the first Dewan of Sikkim as his Personal Assistant and was brought to Sikkim on deputation on Foreign Service while working in the Home Ministry of Government of India. Late Gupta was born on 27th March, 1925 from a respectable  family of Old Delhi. He had joined service at an age of 18 years with Government of India and joined in Sikkim on 31st August, 1949. After Dewan J. S. Lal he worked under five other Dewans, Sidlon, Principle Administrative Officer and Chief Executive. Later he worked as Special Officer, Joint Secretary and Additional Secretary (Home) besides working as first Secretary   to the erstwhile Sikkim Council from 1953 to 1973 and again as the  first Secretary of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly from 1974 to 1984. During this assignment he was a member of the Indian Parliamentary Delegation to visit a number of foreign countries. There after he retired from Government of Sikkim Service in 1984.

While in service he was awarded a Certificate and a watch by the Late Chogyal Sir Tashi Namgyal in 1958 in appreciation of his dedicated, loyal and meritorious service rendered to the Durbar and a ‘SANAD’ by the late Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal in 1971. He used to feel Sikkim a lucky place to live in and was very happy to have come and settled here. Before his retirement he was inducted into All India Service (IAS) in 1984 which was his cherished ambition since his earlier days of his career. In addition to the above assignments and after his retirement he functioned as a member of the First Pay Commission of Sikkim in 1975 under the Chairmanship of late M.P. Pradhan. For nearly 7 years he worked as Chief Manager and later as Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Sikkim Bank Ltd.

Singhis

Late Ganpat Rai Singhi, 25 years of age, was the First Singhi, who came to Sikkim in 1895. He was an employee of m/s Jethmull Bhojraj and established the Mangan Bazar in 1903. Very soon his sincerity was appreciated and awarded him 50% partnership there itself. Sooner his family joined him ie his wife Parvati Devi and his son Dulidchand. The second son Khyaliram was admitted in Mangan Missionary School in 1935.

Very soon they  established their own business at Gangtok  in the name of Ganpatrai Dulichand, popularly known as CHOTTA BANK and later at Dikchu, alongwith his brothers Chandanmall and Sumermull. Khyaliram, known as KHILIA MAHAJAN and was very much  known for his social service and religious activities. The third generation is of mixed profession. OP Singhi retired as Secretary to Sikkim State Government, Dr. Vijay Singhi retired  as Principal Director and Dr. Lalita Singhi as Joint Director in Health Department, Abhay has established Garment Manufacturing unit at Ludhiana, Raju, Narpat and Ashok are having different retailing outlets at Gangtok.

Vermas

Tek Chand Verma the father of the author of this website came to Sikkim in 1952. Originally from Ropar in Punjab,  he was born in Burma where his father was posted as a Civil Engineer in Toungyee in Burma. During World War II when the Japanese attached Singapore in 1942, the family left for India. He did his Mechanical Engineering from Jadavpur and then took up various assignemnts in Ambala, Delhi and Bihar. He was interviewed by no other than Chogyal Tashi Namgyal who wanted a competent engineer to maintain the fleet of vehicles in the Sikkim Transport Department and was appointed as Works Manager in 1952. He modernised the Transportation system in the state by introducing Tata Merzedes Benz vehicles and upgraded the Central Workshop.  As a child  I have fond memories of accompanying him to  TATA Jamesdpur to collect buses. He used to drive the vehicles himself along with his group of drivers.  His wife also served as a teacher with the Government of Sikkim for 25 years. Post retirement he organised Yoga Camps in the remote parts of Sikkim for the benefit of the citizens.

His elder son Rajesh Verma retired as Secretary Information Technology, Government of Sikkim, the second retired as Medical Superintedent of STNM Hospital and the third is still serving as a Mechincal engineer with Goverment of Sikkim.