After exploring the beauty of the Tsomgo Lake with glacial waters also called Changu Lake, I am here to share about the Nathula Pass, which connects India’s Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Located around 56 km’s from Sikkim’s capital city Gangtok at an altitude of 14450 ft, the Nathula Pass is an outstanding site of tourist attraction.
Nathula Pass Visiting Days
Tourists are allowed to see the international border from close such that you can see Chinese soldiers on the other side. Nathula Pass is only open for Indian visitors for 5 days a week including Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and closed on Monday & Tuesday for two days. You will only be allowed after you get a permit to visit it through a registered Travel Agency. Foreigners aren’t allowed and photography is strictly prohibited.
How To Get Nathula Pass Permit?
Nathula Pass permit procedure is issued by Sikkim Tourism Department in Gangtok. You can either get your permit through a registered tour agency or ask your hotel to get it. You will need to submit documents like a photo ID proof and two passport size photographs and you will get your permit by the next morning.
Nathu La Pass permit cost is Rs.200 per person and children below 4 years of age aren’t issued (don’t allow) a permit. However, you can take them at your own risk. (T&C)
What is the Best Time To Visit Nathula Pass ?
Nathula being a mountain pass in the Himalayas which stays covered with snow for the most part of the year. This is why I recommend you to visit in the month of March to October.
Nathula Pass Weather
The months from May to October are considered as summers in Nathula with temperatures ranging from a minimum 15º C to a maximum of 20º C. It is advisable that you pack heavy woollen clothing even in summers.
Winters are extremely cold here temperatures falls to -25º C, which makes it too cold to survive even. Winters start from November and peaks in December to February. Due to bad weather Nathula covered in snow but the route usually remains open. If you are visiting Nathula during these months do not forget to pick up snow boots and heavy winter wears. Stalls on the way also offer snow gears on rent.
The mountains are green in September with no snow in the town. The weather would still be chilly with winds. You might feel snow winds on higher reaches.
Nathula Border Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple
Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple is also known as Baba Mandir. This temple is located between Nathula and Jelepla pass at an altitude of 13,123 ft, about 52 km far from Gangtok. Tourists to Nathula often visit the temple as well, which has a touching story behind it. Harbhajan Singh was a Sentry of Punjab Regiment, who disappeared in October 1968 when he was posted here as part of Nathula border patrol force. It is said that he fell into a stream and drowned, a few days later reappeared in the dreams of one of his sentry colleagues asking him to build a memorial here on his name. The sentries then built his Samadhi which later was transformed into the temple. The guards believe that his spirit is still alive and will protect them in this very difficult terrain.
How To Reach Nathula Pass?
You will get shared jeeps and reserved vehicles like Scorpio, Innova, Bolero and Sumo to Nathula from Gangtok. It usually is a full one day trip including visits to Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir along with Nathula. Nathula is around 56 km from Gangtok, which is roughly a one and a half hour drive but due to road conditions, snow, and landslides, traffic can get held up for hours.
The cost varies depending on the season. During peak season (April to June and October to November) shared vehicle would cost about Rs. 700 per person for a visit to all three (Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir and Nathula) including permit fee while a reserved vehicle like Scorpio or Innova would cost around Rs. 7,000 including permits. During low season, the reserved vehicle would cost around Rs. 5,500 and shared vehicles are usually not available.
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