Linguistic Survey of India – Sikkim Part-II


The Linguistic Survey of India (LSI) is an ongoing project of the Government of India that aims to document and study how languages have changed in the country over the years. It considers shifts in society, administrative regions and the reorganisation of states based on linguistic identity. This project has been undertaken by the Language Division, Office of the Registrar General, Government of India.

Part of this project is the Linguistic Survey of India – Sikkim Part-II which focuses on the Nepali language spoken majorly in the state. “States have boundaries, whereas languages do not,” states the report. It also presents a comparative study of Nepali language in the states of Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal. 

The survey of Nepali language in this report was initiated in the year 2010 by Dr. Kakali Mukherjee, Senior Research Officer, ORGI, Language Division, Kolkata.

This 281-page document is divided into six chapters: Introduction (Chapter 1); Nepali in Sikkim (Chapter 2); Comparative Study of Nepali in Sikkim, West Bengal & Himachal Pradesh (Chapter 3); Comparative Lexicon of Nepali in Sikkim, West Bengal & Himachal Pradesh (Chapter 4); Appendix I and II (Chapter 5); Conclusion (Chapter 6).


  1. In Sikkim, Nepali is spoken by 338,606 speakers followed by Bhotia with 41,825 speakers and Hindi by 36,072 speakers.

  2. Languages such as Nepali, Bhotia, Lepcha, Limbu, Tamang, Rai, Mangar, Sunwar, Newari, are also spoken in Sikkim.

  3. Nepali has been included as one of the 22 Scheduled languages specified to the Constitution of India by 71st Amendment Act, 1992. It is a sub branch of the Indo-Aryan sub-family of the Indo-European Language family.

  4. Sikkim is the homeland of three main ethnic groups: the Lepchas, the Bhutias and the Nepalese. While Lepchas are the original inhabitants of the state, Bhutias migrated from Tibet into Sikkim in the 17th century and the Nepalese started migration into Sikkim at the beginning of the 19th century.

  5. Nepali language also known as Eastern Pahari or Parbatiya, Khaskura, Gorkhali. These names were also mentioned in the Linguistic Survey of India by George Abraham Grierson in pre-Independence India. According to him, Khaskura is the oldest name of Nepali language. 

  6. Nepali language is observed in all the four districts of Sikkim but is more concentrated in North and East districts.

  7. As per Census 2001, among the total number of Nepali speakers in India, 52.81 per cent are registered as bilingual and 22.54 per cent are trilingual. In Sikkim, 48.59 per cent of Nepali speakers are bilingual and 55.24 per cent are trilingual.

  8. The Devanagari script is used for writing in the Nepali language. In Sikkim, Nepalese is the medium of instruction up to postgraduate level.

  9. In Sikkim, there are 545 primary schools, 82 secondary schools, 10 higher secondary schools and one graduate college where Nepali is used as a teaching medium along with English and Hindi.

    Focus and Factoids by Vishnu Shankar Tiwari.


Language Division, Office of the Registrar General, Government of India


Language Division, Office of the Registrar General, Government of India