Places to visit in Sikkim - Nathula Pass (Photos)


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"Nathula Pass" is also one of the hottest tourist destinations and must visit places in Sikkim. Nathula Pass is located at an altitude of 14,140 feet above sea level and is 52 Kms from Gangtok.  The picture above showing a structure with red roof is the last Indian point manned by Indian soldiers and also Chinese soldiers on the other end.

Reportedly, Nathula Pass was the place through which the famous Silk Route used to operate until 1962. The silk trade between India and Tibet used to operate through Nathula Pass and people could see lines of mules carry silk, gold and many other items from Tibet to India and take daily essentials back to Tibet. But since 1962, the trade has been shut.

Some photos on the way to Nathula Pass:

The landscape and the view on the way to Nathula Pass is picturesque. We can see snow covered mountains and roof tops on the way. But looking at the locals in thick clothing, I imagined life would be hard in such extreme temperatures. 

If the weather condition is not clear, there won't be much to see though as we could see barely 10 feet ahead from the car during most parts of the journey, especially before Tsongmo Lake and after. However, the sky cleared up a bit towards Nathula Pass. 

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Some Photos From Near Nathula Pass


As we drive up closer to Nathula Pass, we feel the thinness of the air from our breathing. Since it is at a high altitude (14140 ft), breathing becomes heavier and some difficulty in movement could be experienced. Some with breathing problems should consult a doctor and take precautionary medicines and oxygen cylinders etc. before visiting.


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A market near Nathula Pass
There is also a market near Nathula Pass where you can drop in for some tea and snacks, or shop if you like. A warm cup of tea or coffee is a respite in such chilling temperature.

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View of the road leading up to Nathula Pass.

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Indian occupation near Nathula Pass. The fort near the border have bunkers of Indian Army.

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Soldier both from India and China man the fenced border. Photography is not allowed there. Both Indian soldiers and Chinese soldiers greet tourists warmly and with handshakes. I managed to say "Ni-Hao" (means Hello in Mandarin) to one Chinese soldier and he responded with a smile. 

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About visiting Nathula Pass

  • Nathula is a protected area. Therefore, Foreign tourists are not allowed here. 
  • Indian visitors require a valid Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit Nathula. Permit is issued by the Sikkim Tourism Department in Gangtok. You can get it done through a registered tour operator.  There are plenty in Gangtok.
  • Permit cost is Rs. 200/- per person. 
  • Documents required to visit Nathula (for permit): Photo ID Proof (PAN card not accepted) and two passport photo.
  • Better arrange for a tour with a tour operator in Gangtok at least 1-2 days in advance and they will take care of the rest including permit and vehicles. We can visit Nathula only by a vehicle provided by one of the Sikkim Government authorized operators. We cannot take our own vehicle or any other taxi to go to Nathula Pass.
  • Tour operators would normally suggest combined tour package including other attractions such as Tsongmo Lake and Baba Mandir visits which are on the way to Nathu La Pass. It is better to take if you have time to visit other places on the way.
  • Photography and videography is not allowed at Nathu La Pass though it is not implemented strictly.



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