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Nathula Pass- Check out this Incredible part of India!

By Shrinivas - May 28, 2020
Nathula pass

Nathula Pass is a Himalayan mountain pass in eastern Sikkim district. It connects the Indian state of Sikkim with the autonomous zone of Tibet in China. The pass is a part of an offshoot of the ancient Tea Horse Path, at 4,310 m above mean sea level. Nathu means “ears-listening” and in Tibetan La means “pass.” 

Nathula Pass in winter
Source: Unsplash

Nathula Pass

Located at an altitude of 14,140 feet and 56kms from Gangtok, Nathula Pass was the location where until 1962 the famed Silk Route ran. Which used to be India-Tibet silk trading road. Lines of mules used to bring silk, gold and many other things from Tibet to India and return to Tibet for the everyday needs. Tibet’s road goes down the Chumbi Valley to Yathung, a location about 30kms away that used to be a large trade township. Even you can see this road winding down the valley on a bright day. Looking to the eastern horizon, you can see Bhutan‘s majestic Chomolhari mountain. 

After some 44 years of closure, on 6 July 2006, the old Silk Route reopened again allowing limited trade between China’s India and Tibet. Through this route, items such as wool, raw silk, yak hair, yak tail, china clay, horses, sheep etc. can be imported duty-free from Chinese Tibet while 29 items, including clothes, tea, coffee, rice etc. can be exported to China.

Near Sherathang is another place called Kup which remains mostly cloud covered. It has the world’s second-tallest golf course. In Kup, you can find the Gnathang Temple, among other items, and the Gnathang War Memorial which was established in remembrance of the British soldiers who died in a war with Tibet in the 1800s.

Also Read: Things to do in Bhutan

Oxygen levels in the air are quite low because of the high altitude at Nathula. Few (adults or kids) may face problems with breathing at Nathula. If the travellers already have breathing problems or other health issues, it is a must to consult a doctor before the visit. They should take Acetazolamide Tablets when visiting Nathula. It helps deal with illness from high altitude.

Nathula pass sikkim
Source: Google images

Permit to Nathula Pass

The travellers need to obtain the permit through a Sikkim government authorized tour operator. And they can only visit Nathula by a vehicle provided by this type of tour operator. It is not allowed to take a city taxi or a self-driven vehicle to Nathula. The permit is given in Gangtok / Police Check Post by Sikkim Tourism Department. 

The travellers will need photo ID proof like Passport / Voters Id Card and two passport size photos each. Request for permits is produced in the morning and typically the permits are given in the afternoon or even the next day. Trip to Nathula always begins in the morning.

Best time to visit Nathula Pass

First one will remember that Nathula will only be available from Wednesday through Sunday of the week. This is unavailable to the public Mondays and Tuesdays. Between May and October, when the temperature hovers about 10 to 15 ° C, is a perfect time to explore. The travellers can see the entire pass and the landscape in the background on a clear day with towering mountain peaks. Currently, snowfall is unlikely. 

Winter begins in November and peaks from December through February. This is when there is heavy snowing, and the temperature can easily go below -25 ° C. The road to Nathula frequently remains blocked when it snows heavily during winter. If the route is open, however, and you make a winter visit, pick up snow boots and heavy winter wear along the way. The two months-November and March are a fine time to see snow-covered Nathula. On those two winter months, the road normally remains accessible.

Also Read: Best time to visit Sikkim

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