Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Travellogue : Trip to Nathula Pass

The trip to Sikkim is incomplete without visiting the Nathula Pass on the Indo- Tibetian border in East Sikkim. We visited in the first week of April 2015, the time where we get to enjoy snow and pleasant weather( so this post is there in my drafts folder for over an year, -:))
Nathula Pass is located about 14,000 ft above sea level and come rain, sun,snow or avalanche, its guarded by the brave soldiers of Indian Army.

Permission to visit Nathula Pass
The road to Nathula is only open during specific times of the year and you need special permission to visit this and Tsomgo lake(which on the Nathula-Gangtok road) from the Indian Army. The permissions are available in the Tourist Office in M.G. Marg, Gangtok and visiting time for Nathula are strictly  limited,you have to return to Gangtok before 3-30 PM the same day.
Our permits Nathula were organized by Sonam Delek, where we stayed during our trip and the charges were included in the fare. We were lucky to get this permission as the heavy downpour previous days had made the road less traversable. We were highly impressed by Sonam Delek to go that extra mile for not only arranging us the permission but also providing us an excellent taxi driver.
For the permission you need the passport size photo and Id proof. This was informed earlier to us so we had taken along with us while leaving for Gangtok. I don't remember the exact charge but it was around 5000 Indian Rupees for one vehicle.

Sikkim, Nathula Pass





Sikkim, Nathula Pass


Since we got the permission late in the morning our journey to Nathula from Gangtok started a bit late and we were in a great hurry to return back too. On the way to Nathula, you will encounter beautiful, small waterfalls, do stop by while returning from Nathula Pass.
En route to Nathula is breathtaking and at the same time scary one. The time we went the roads were not in good shape. On one side it's misty deep valley and other side it's snow clad mountains with boulders and stones. Thanks to Indian Army for maintaining them all year around.

Changu Market
In case you are not prepared and do not have warm clothes for the shivering weather,  you can rent them at the small shops near Changu Lake(Tsomgo lake). There are many shops to rent jackets, snow boots, gloves. Take care to try it out thoroughly before renting. We were in a hurry and the jacket we got for my younger son didn't have buttons so he wasn't covered properly. That was a concern in the whole trip and he was freezing when he was outside the jeep. Besides renting the jacket and snow boots we purchased gloves for memory sake.

Sikkim, Nathula Pass


Silk Route
While on the way to Nathula Pass you can see the Silk Route which really exists!!!. This is one such route which connects Tibet with India where trading of Tea, Chinese silk, Indian Jewelry are done. It was closed due to hostility between China and India, it was reopened after 44 years in 2006. While our visiting the trading hadn't started. We also passed through the Sherathang village which is inhibited by the army officers, security, customs officers and we were ecstatic to see State Bank of India branch serving the people at such heights.
Once we reach on the top, in Nathula, we have to park the vehicle outside in designated parking and walk onto the top where actual border is seen. It is tedious and you may fall sick due to lack of oxygen. The sun was shining and to see the border of India we didn't mind the height nor the discomfort. The Indian soldiers guarding here insists on not to click  any photos. Our tryst with Nathula was worth as we got to salute and shake warm hands of Indian soldiers and the Chinese on the other side of the fence. In the end it was so cold, we wanted to go to loo badly but off course there were none there. There is a small cafĂ© 14K at those heights,frozen after few minutes in cold outside we thawed inside having memorable hot soup.

Descending from Nathula Pass, we visited the Tsogmo lake nestled among the snowy mountains . It was so spectacular sight and beautiful beyond words. The water in the lake is due to the melting of the snow in the surrounding mountains. Here you can take yak rides around the lake or simply click photos sitting on brightly adorned yaks. We did the latter one.

There are plenty of places where you can park the vehicle besides the road and play in the snow.After a while when chilly winds hit you, you respect the soldiers again for bearing such cold to guard the country. The cold outside was making my younger son fussy and we just walked few steps in the snow and returned back to the Jeep.
Sikkim, Nathula Pass

On the way back we stopped briefly at New Baba Mandir in the memory of the soldier Harbhajan Singh. There are many stories and legends about him protecting the Indian Army. You can click beautiful pictures of serene Himalayas here in the background.

Sikkim, Nathula Pass

Sikkim, Nathula Pass

Shopping
Every trip is incomplete without the souvenir. Do not forget to shop at the souvenir shop run by army near New Baba Mandir where I felt the prices were reasonable. It is bit crowded but definitely they will tend to your needs.

If you still have time you might give a visit the original Baba Mandir but we gave it a skip(The taxi driver mentioned about this but due to time limit we could not visit this place)


5 comments:

  1. enjoyed reading every bit of the post. thanks for sharing

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  2. That's a lovely place to visit and great memories to treasure:) Thanks for sharing the details!!

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  3. wow ..great place...happy to know about a beautiful place...

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  4. Thanks ladies for dropping by. I hope it helps someone who is visiting this place

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  5. Wow It looks so lovely. I would like to visit it some day. Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences. Photos are great.

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