An important pass on the crossroads of the Indo-China border, Nathula Pass forms a part of an offshoot of the Old Silk Road. Things haven’t changed much and the pass still indulges passing tourists in pretty much the same way as it once catered to traders and merchants. Take a trip to Nathula Pass to escape the monotonous squalor of the big city life.
But before you do, here’s a quick fact file about this beautiful pass. Read on to know more about one of the scariest roads in India.
History of Nathula Pass
Located on the Old Silk Route, Nathula Pass connects Sikkim to China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. It was sealed for almost four decades after the People’s Republic of China suppressed a Tibetan uprising in 1959. However, when the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited China in 2003, talks to open this strategic route were resumed. The Nathula Pass, as it stands today, was reopened in 2006 and has, ever since, served as an official Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) point.
One of the three open trading border posts between India and China, Nathula plays a key role in the Sino-Indian trade. It also shortens the distance between the important Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage sites, thus strengthening the economy and improving border relations with China.
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Preparing for a trip to Nathula Pass
Best time to visit Nathula Pass
Nathula Pass weather: The temperature in the region drops as low as -25 ° C during winters. The minimum temperature during the summer months is approximately 10 ° C. June to September is the off-season because of the monsoon and the looming threat of landslides.
Nathula Pass visiting days: Wednesday – Sunday
Best season to visit Nathula Pass: Summer (April – mid-June) and Autumn (October – November)
How to reach Nathula Pass
- By Air: Bagdogra Airport, approximately 178 km from Nathula Pass, is the nearest airport.
- By Rail: New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri is the nearest railway head.
- How to reach Nathula Pass from Gangtok: Nathula Pass is located 54 km east of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. The only way to reach the pass is through a drive from Gangtok. Sturdy vehicles such as Innova, Bolero, and Scorpio are available for rent in Gangtok. You can also share a cab till Nathula Pass with other tourists. The road from Gangtok to Nathula Pass is steep and slippery. It is decently maintained, except in a few places.
Who all can visit Nathula Pass?
Only Indian nationals with a valid permit can visit the Nathula Pass.
How to get Nathula Pass permit? A permit can be obtained by applying to the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department. You can apply through a registered travel agency. A photo ID proof and two passport size photographs are required for the same. The Nathula Pass permit cost is INR 200/- per person.
Where to stay during the trip to Nathula Pass?
The only accommodations available are in Gangtok, which is approximately 56 km away. Both budget and high-end resorts and hotels are available easily.
Budget Hotels: The Nettle and Fern Hotel, Hotel Juniper Tree, and Greendale Residency are some of the budget hotels in Gangtok.
Luxury Resorts: Summit Norling Resort & Spa, Mayfair Spa Resort & Casino, and Orange Village Resort are some of the luxury resorts in Gangtok.
Tourist attractions in Nathula Pass
Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir
The shrine built in the memory of Baba Harbhajan Singh, an Indian army personnel who died near Nathula in 1968, is a popular sightseeing spot in Sikkim. The new temple is situated at the junction of Kupup Gnathang road and the trail leading to Menmecho Lake. Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir has a fascinating history and legend associated with it. The local people are of the opinion that Baba Harbhajan Singh still guards the international boundary between India and China.
Mera Bharat Mahan Hill
On the way to Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir is a hillside with the words “Mera Bharat Mahan” written on it. The font size is reasonably big and enough to give you a sudden patriotic rush.
Staircase to Indo-China Border
The steep roads from Gangtok to Nathula take you to a staircase leading to the fenced Indo-China border.
Also known as the Changu Lake, this place offers an idyllic scenery and is a travellers’ delight. The lake reflects different colours with different seasons and is revered by the locals. It is frozen during the winter months.
Things to do: A walk around the lake and yak ride
Mandakini Waterfalls is another beautiful halt in the Nathula Pass tour. Stop here to buy some snacks for your journey and to click a photograph.
Looking for an escapade? Plan a trip to Nathula Pass now and don’t forget to share your travel stories with us.
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