A snowy border where every adventurous tourist wishes to visit at least once in his/her lifetime. In earliest times, there used to be a trade silk route between India and China. Yes, you guessed it right, the place is known as Nathula Pass. The pass connects India’s Sikkim to China’s Tibet region.
Photo by shankar s.
Nathula pass is one of the highest motor-able road in the world which is located at around 56 km from Gangtok, capital city of Sikkim, at a height of approx. 14,450 ft. Nathula Pass was a piece of a branch of the famous Old Silk Route through which the trading of many items like silk, gold, cotton, wool, horses and many other items to India from Tibet and take regular essentials back to Tibet used to operate till 1962. Things are quite the same and the pass still gratify tourists in almost the same way as it once used to provide the traders and merchants. Nathula Pass is positioned on the Indo-Chinese border, and helps to reinforce the economy and improving boundary relations with China and also, abridge the distance between the important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites. It is one of the main tourist attraction in India and one of the best and major attractions in Sikkim. Many tourists and travelers visit the place for trekking in the valley and enjoy the picturesque beauty. There are multiple waterfalls that flow along the way from Gangtok to Nathula and beautiful snow peaks encircling the area. Visit a Nathula Pass to escape the dull and boring big city life and enjoy the opportunity to see the panoramic setting created by god. One can even have an Automated Teller Machine in Thegu, on the way to Nathula which is the highest ATM available in the world.
Nathu means which literally means Listening Ears and La literally means Pass. Only Indians are allowed to visit the Pass only after successful permit from the Sikkim Tourism Department, Gangtok. Foreigners are not allowed to visit the place, considering the security and protection of the border.
The temperature remains low for most of the year but during summer, Nathula floods with tourists. The cold breeze blowing across the mountains at high-speed is simply beautiful and spectacular and worth experiencing in Nathula. Along with number of waterfalls, Tsomgo Lake is a famous tourist stop in the region. Also, the place is a rich home for various flora and fauna.
Photo by NINXIVI
Places to see at Nathula:
Tsomgo Lake – It is also known as the Changu Lake, located at an altitude of around 3,753 meters. It is completely covered by ice during the winter. The lake offers a tranquil scenery and is the major delight for travelers. Different colors reflected by the lake water during different seasons is surely a treat to watch.
Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir – The temple is worshiped by many locals and even visited by many believers. It is built-in the memory of an Indian army personnel, Baba Harbhajan Singh who died in 1968 near Nathula. The temple has a fascinating and touching history associated with it. As per the locals, the spirit of Baba Harbhajan Singh still protects the international boundary between India and China.
Dongkha La – It is a Donkia Pass is mountain pass that connects Sikkim with Tibet, high in Himalaya. The place offers a panoramic view of Tibetan plateau along with Gurudongmar lake and Teesta river.
Mera Bharat Mahan Hill – One can see a hill with the words “Mera Bharat Mahan” written on it, on the way to Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir. The words are big enough to watch with bare eyes and plentiful to give a sudden patriotic feeling.
Indo – Chinese Border – Following a steep staircase from Nathula will lead to the Indo – Chinese border where one can see Indian soldiers on one side and Chinese soldiers on the other side.
Flora and Fauna – Nathula is rich in various flora and fauna. Various species of rhododendrons, meadows including primula, poa and grasses, medicinal herbs, ground orchid can be seen here. Birds like black eagle, blue whistling thrush, folk tales, restarts, tit-babblers, etc. can be found here along with the Himalayan wildlife animals like Tibetan gazelle, snow leopard, yaks, Feral dogs, raven, Tibetan snow cock, Tibetan wolves, etc. can also be found.
How to reach to Nathula:
By Road – A drive by Private vehicles or vehicles on rent can be reached to Nathula Pass from Gangtok. Though the roads are abrupt and slippery, but are maintained very well.
By Rail – The nearest railway station is Jalpaiguri in Siliguri.
By Air – The nearest airport is Bagdogra airport in West Bengal.
The best time to visit Nathula Pass is during summers i.e. April – June and in Autumn i.e. during October – November. Visit Nathula Pass to enjoy the scenic and spectacular beauty of the place and to appreciate the efforts taken by Indian army to protect us.
Featured Photo by Shayon Ghosh