General Observations on Sikkim small state with a big heart

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Zero Point; Sikkim; uasatish; snow; blue sky; white clouds;
Zero Point

General Observations on Sikkim pertains to the second smallest state in India. It has dramatic Himalayan landscapes. This includes India’s tallest mountain, Kangchenjunga (8,586 metres). Sikkim is home to alpine meadows, glaciers and numerous types of wild flowers. There are hilltop Buddhist monasteries such as Rumtek which is dateable to the mid 1700s.

People and Languages

Nepali is the language used by the majority of people in Sikkim. Most of them are able to speak Hindi too. You can survive with English in hotels, tourist areas and restaurants. It does help if you can speak a few words of  Hindi.

Winding Mountain Road in Sikkim; Skkim; mountains; road; sky; clouds; uasatish;
Winding Mountain Road

Credit and debit cards are accepted in some hotels and restaurants. When you are travelling outside the towns, cash is the only medium of transaction. The population of ATMs is low. So visitors have to keep a reasonable amount of cash with them in their travels within Sikkim.

The state is generally peaceful. People tend to be disciplined. Sikkim is well known for its cleanliness. Littering in public places is rare.
Call and data connectivity on mobile phones can be erratic. Many hotels provide wi-fi facility, but the signal strength is often low.
Travellers have to keep in mind that some places in Sikkim do not have medical clinics, hospitals or medical shops. You have to carry the basic requirement of medicines.
Sikkim; India; Yaks; road; uasatish; Maruti Gypsy;
Decorated Yaks

Local Transport

Sikkim is a hilly region. Roads have ups and downs. There are no autorickshaws in the place. Buses are also hard to find. The main mode of transport is cars. Small taxis are everywhere. Parking space is scarce in towns like Gangtok because buildings stand on the edges of  roads.

Mountain Slope Covered with Rhododendrons; Sikkim; uasatish; Rhododendrons; flowers; General Observations on Sikkim
Mountain Slope Covered with Rhododendrons

Inter-City Transport

Roads in Sikkim tend to be narrow. Two cars can barely pass each other. I found road widening work in progress in some areas. Still certain stretches of roads are in poor condition. Landslides can be a problem, particularly during the rainy season.

In the border areas, big army trucks and convoys are a common sight. Because of the narrow roads, traffic slows to a crawl at times.

Bridge in North Sikkim; General Observations on Sikkim; usatish;
Bridge in North Sikkim

Inter-city transport can be costly since one has to depend almost entirely on cars. There are no trains in the state. The nearest railway station (New Jalpaiguri) is in Siliguri, Bengal . It is 120 km (3 hours 45 minutes) from Gangtok. Nearest airport is Bagdogra which is also in Siliguri. Pakyong Airport in Sikkim is not fully operational yet.

Gangtok Street; General Observations on Sikkim; uasatish;
Gangtok Street

Food

Restaurants can be found only in cities and towns. In the city centre of Gangtok is MG Road which has several restaurants and bars. There are a number of  restaurants and bars on this road. Some of the well- known ones include Baker’s Cafe, Roll House,  Parivar, Pub 25 and Rasoi.

While travelling between towns, the food fare is usually restricted to momos and noodles. These are available in small food stalls. It may therefore be advisable to carry packed lunches when you leave your hotel.

Meadow in Yumthang Valley; Sikkim; uasatish; India; Yumthang Valley;
Meadow in Yumthang Valley

Shopping

Souvenirs that you can can be pick up in Sikkim include Thangka paintings, prayer wheels, traditional dresses, classic jewellery, yak cheese and Sikkim tea.

Nathula 17 KM; Sikkim; road; General Observations on Sikkim; uasatish;
Nathu La 17 km

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