Nathu La Pass

4.2 / 5 70 votes


Weather:

Ideal Time: 1 hour

Timings:

Wednesday - Sunday: 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM (For Indian Nationals)

Entry Fee:

No entry fees, but permit is necessary
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Nathu La Pass, Gangtok Overview

Nathu La, one of the highest motorable roads in the world, is a mountain pass in the Himalayan peaks that co-joins Sikkim and China. Situated on the Indo-Tibetan border 14450 ft. above sea level, Nathu La is one of the most important Himalayan passes in the country. Nathu means 'listening ears', and La means 'pass'. Nathu La is one of the three open trading border posts between India and China and is famous for its picturesque beauty and beautiful environment. The temperature here remains low for most parts of the year, and it becomes a hotspot for tourists during summer.

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 Nathu La. It also offers an opportunity to see beautiful snow peaks encircling the area. The region also supports Himalayan wildlife like Tibetan gazelle, snow leopard, yaks, Tibetan wolves, etc. Nathu La Pass has a rich variety of flora apart from a spectacular wildlife range.

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Nathula Pass experiences heavy snowfall during winter. The temperature of this area may drop down to -25 degrees Celcius. If you really love snow, you can visit Nathula Pass in winter with thick woollen garments. May to mid-November is the summer season when the temperature ranges around 10 degrees Celcius.

A unique samadhi, somewhere in the middle of Kupup Valley, 60 km from Gangtok and 20 km from Nathu La Pass, has to be visited to be believed. It is the 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.

Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, or the Baba Mandir (as it is popularly called), 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?!

Read more about Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir

A valid permit to visit Nathu La Pass is given to only Indian Nationals. The permit is obtained by applying to the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department. This can be done with the help of a registered travel agency. Valid identity proof and two photographs are necessary for the same.

Flora: Due to the steep vegetation around Nathu La, the vegetation graduates from the sub-tropical forest at its base, to a temperate region, to a wet and dry alpine climate and finally to cold Tundra Desert devoid of vegetation. The area around Nathu La Pass in the Tibetan region has little or no vegetation besides scattered shrubs. However, there are some plants that are grown in the other region. The major species of plants found in this region include Dwarf Rhodendrons and Junipers. Other species include Poa, Meconopsis, Peducularis, Primula and Aconitum. Several firs, sedges and medicinal herbs are also grown in plenty.

Fauna: Nathu La Pass is home to various animals and birds which include Pashmina-type goats, Tibetan herd Yak and Sheep. It also includes endangered species like Tibetan Gazelle, Snow Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, Tibetan Snowcock, Golden Eagle and Raven. Pheasants such as Monals and Blood Pheasants are also found.

Located on the Old Silk Route, Nathu La Pass connects Sikkim to China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. It was sealed for almost 4 decades after the People’s Republic of China suppressed a Tibetan uprising in 1959. However, when the former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited China in 2003, talks to open the strategic route were resumed.  The Nathu La Pass was reopened in 2006 and since then, it has served as an official Border Personnel Meeting(BPM) Point.

Since it is one of the three open trading border posts between India and China, Nathu La Pass has played a key role in the Sino-Indian Trade. It has also shortened the distance between the important Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage sites, thus strengthening the economy and improving border relations with China.

The Nathu La Pass is located 54 km from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim and 430 km from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. In the winter, the pass is blocked by heavy snowfall. Nathu La Pass has moderately shallow, excessively drained, course and loamy soil on a steep slope with a gravelly loamy surface, moderate erosion and moderate stoniness. It has several sinking zones and parts of it are prone to landslides.

There is no meteorological incentre in Nathu La Pass, a systematic measurement of meteorological data is not available in that region. However, in the higher portion of The Himalayas around that region, the summer temperature does not exceed beyond 15 degrees Celsius. To preserve the fragile environment of Nathu La Pass on the Indian side, the Government of India regulates the flow of tourists and the roads are maintained by Border Roads Organization, a wing of the Indian Army.

  • 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.


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Nathu La Pass Reviews

5 months ago by Wasim Akram

It is nearest part to reach or see China.

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Latest questions by travellers on Nathu La Pass

How is the weather in January?

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Whether child age of 7 months is safe to 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.

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