Time Required: 1 hour
Open Time: Wednesday - Sunday: 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM (For Indian Nationals)
Cost: No entry fees, but permit is necessary
Nathula, one of the highest drive roads in the world, is a mountain pass in the Himalayan peaks that co-joins Sikkim and China. Nathula Pass is situated on the Indo-Chinese border and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in India. Several tourists flock here every year for trekking in the valley and enjoying the scenic beauty. There are a number of waterfalls that gush along the way from Gangtok to Nathula. It also offers an opportunity to see beautiful snow peaks encircling the area.
A unique samadhi, somewhere in the middle of Kupup Valley, 60 km from Gangtok and 20 km from Nathu La, has to be visited to be believed. It is local belief that every person visiting the Nathang Valley and crossing through this enchantingly beautiful terrain has to pay their respects to Baba Harbhajan Singh. Don't think of it as an ordinary temple, for you'll be mistaken! As you climb the stairs to the concrete construction, flanked with bells on both side, you'll be rewarded with the most ineffable samadhi you'd have ever visited. It is a small space consisting of two rooms and is a soldier's bunker. One room has a desk and a chair with a placard requesting people not to sit on Babaji's chair. The other room has a single bed, a thick blanket and an altar for the worshippers to place offerings. There is also an army uniform and a pair of polished boots kept under the bed. The person who comes to clean the samadhi sometimes finds the uniform crinkled or the boots muddy. Yes, eerie isn't it?!
The story of this unique samadhi goes that Harbhajan Singh was just another soldier manning the India-China border in East Sikkim. In 1968, while escorting a mule column, he slipped and fell into a gushing stream, thus drowning at the age of just 22 years. His body was searched for extensively, but to no avail. After five days, he appeared in the dreams of a colleague telling him the location of his body and expressing a desire to have a samadhi made for him. The colleague woke up sceptical went to the spot directed by Harbhajan Singh in the dream and, not surprisingly, his body was dug out from the same location and a samadhi built for him, later on. Ever since, the locals and the regiment believe, that Harbhajan Singh is always on duty. What's more interesting is the fact that he warns soldiers, in their dreams, of attacks by Chinese, at least three days in advance. The army still pays his salary, as Harbhajan Singh is still on duty. Every year, on 11 September, his belongings are sent to his family and the Railways book a seat for him on the train. When the Baba is on leave, the army is on high alert!
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Nathula Pass experiences heavy snowfall during winter. The temperature of this area may drop down to 25 degree C. If you really love snow, you can visit Nathula Pass in winter with thick woollen garments. May to mid November is the summer seasoning Nathula, when the temperature ranges around 10 degree C.
Air: The closest airport to Nathula is Bagdogra airport and it is connected to cities like Delhi and Kolkata. From there you can hire a taxi to reach Gangtok, which is well connected to Nathula by road.
Rail: The nearest railway station is in Jalpaiguri, 98 kilometers from Gangtok. You can take a taxi from here to reach Gangtok.
Road: Nathula is well connected by road to Gangtok. You can take a taxi from Gangtok to reach Nathula.
You have to travel on foot at Nathula Pass. You can hire taxis to go see the nearby places.
There is no accommodation option at Nathula Pass for tourists, so you have to reside at the hotels in Gangtok. Mayfair Spa Resort, Hotel Norkhil, Royal Plaza, Chumbi Residency, Hotel Rendezvous, Sidlon Residency, etc. are some of the hotels close to Nathula pass.
The Gangtok - Nathula Highway is one of the most beautiful mountain roads in the world and is great for sightseeing. About 70 kms from Gangtok, across the Tsomgo Lake and the new Baba Harbhajan Mandir, the road is an adventurous one. On a clear day, you can also enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Chomolhari from Nathula Pass.
Many tourists come here every year for trekking in the valley.
There are no shopping places here. But there are several shopping arcades in Gangtok famous for the woollen carpets and local handicrafts. You can also buy painting, art work, etc. from here.
The place does not have any culture or population as it a border pass. To experience the culture to Sikkim, one has to visit Gangtok.
The place does not have a nightlife. You can experience the nightlife of Sikkim at Gangtok though which has many clubs.
A few tea stalls and food corners are present at Nathula. To enjoy the local cuisine you have to see Gangtok which includes Gya Thuk or Thukpam, Phagshapa, Momo, Ningro along with Churpi, Sael Roti and Gundruk. These are dishes one must try while visiting Gangtok. Chaang is the popular drink of the place.
Nathula has no restaurants. Some of the good restaurants you can find at Gangtok are Gangtalk, 9'INE, Taste of Tiber, Tangerine among others.
Nathula is best seen on a trip to Gangtok, just 24 kms away. Reach Gangtok and leave early for Nathula at 8am. Have your breakfast at a nearby restaurant on the way. Reach Nathula Pass and enjoy the beauty of the place. You can trek in the valley too if you want. After visiting the pass, take a tour to the Tsomgo Lake. Return to Gangtok in the evening and have your dinner at a nearby good restaurant. The next day you can see Gangtok.
During the years Nathu La remained closed, the only people permitted to cross it was a Chinese postman with an Indian military escort to handover letters from either side of the border. The reopening of Nathu la Pass coincided with the 71st birthday of the 14th Dalai Lama.
It is advised not to rush up the stairs, as you may go out of breath after some time.
Carry woollen clothes with you.
Take permit before itself from the authorities to visit Nathula Pass.
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Whether child age of 7 months is safe for visit nathula in the end of April.
Answer: End of April is a very good time to visit Nathula, as the weather is quite pleasant. However, the higher altitude might not be good for a child that young and there may be breathing difficulties. It is best to consult a doctor regarding the physical fitness of the child to be in this atmosphere.