I am completely in love with this place. I have been to Nathu La Pass twice and both the time I was breath taken by its beauty. It feels like you are in heaven. I could not help myself from writing about it as a separate post altogether rather than mentioning it in my upcoming post about Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim; this place deserves it. Nathu La is a one day trip from Gangtok.
Nathu La Pass is a mountain pass in the Himalayas. It is located at an altitude of 14,140 feet above the sea level and is 52kms from Gangtok. “Nathu” means the “listening ears” and “La” means “pass” was a part of the silk route. It is one of the trading borders between India and China.
Here we can see the fenced Indo-China boarder and soldiers of both the countries guarding the border. Trust me when I saw the Indian flag flying high, surrounded by the snow in the Himalayas, I felt so proud at that moment.
Another amazing thing is that one can have an amazing view of the Great Wall of China from here. The view is clear, though it depends on the weather. You can also go to the Indian army canteen, “The Café 14000” and get a certificate of visit to Nathu La.
Few of the important things which needs to be kept in mind before going Nathu La are
- Need to get permit in advance. Getting permit is not difficult, just contact your hotel reception and they will help you out with it. Inform your hotel reception at least a day in advance.
- Need to carry 3 passport size photographs, ID Proof and Address Proof copies.
- It is really cold out there so you need to pack yourself completely with woolen clothes.
- Need to take boots in rent from the local shops on your way so that you are able to walk comfortably in the snow.
- Altitude sickness is very common while climbing mountains so take necessary precautions for it. Read my post on Precautions of Altitude sickness .
On the way to Nathu La from Gangtok two other places can be visited; Tsomgo lake and Baba Mandir.
Tsomgo Lake (pronounced as Changu Lake) is a glacial lake at a height of 12,313 feet above the sea level. This lake remains frozen during the months of winter. An amazing fact about Changu Lake is it changes colour with the change in seasons. Buddhist monks are doing a study about the changing colour of the lake.
Baba mandir is located at an altitude of 13,123 feet. This is a temple of Baba Harbhajan Singh built by the army men. He was an Indian soldier who died in the year 1968 near Nathu La. He is worshipped by the soldiers of the Indian army and is also called as “Hero of Nathula”. There are many stories associated with him and it is believed that his spirit is still guarding the boarder and protecting the Indian soldiers posted in this region. It is also said that the Chinese soldiers across the border has seen a turbaned army men doing his rounds at night.
The entire journey from Gangtok to Nathu La is an amazing experience.
P.S.: I apologize for the image quality. The photographs were taken long ago and my old camera could not afford to take a better picture in fog.