Nathula is open for Indian nationals on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays. The visitors have to get the permit to visit the place by applying to the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department through a registered and recognised Travel Agency. Foreign nationals are not allowed to visit Nathula. Photography is strictly prohibited. One can find ATM facility here which is the worlds highest Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
The Nathula Pass is marked by Entrance gates of both countries (India and China) and military bunkers on both sides of the gates. On the Indian side, you would find some fortified military bunkers, a war memorial, an army exhibition centre, a military canteen serving hot tea and fresh snacks to tourists.
What to see in Nathula Pass:The winding Gangtok – Nathula Highway is one of the most beautiful mountain roads of the world. Nearly, 70 kms from Gangtok, crossing the azure blue Tsomgo Lake (also known as Changu Lake) and the new Baba Harbhajan Mandir, the road is an adventure itself. The border checkpost at Nathula Pass is marked by the Border Gates of India and China, a war memorial and an Exhibition Centre of India Army. On a clear day, you can also enjoy great views of Mt. Chomolhari from Nathula Pass. Even though Nathula Pass is a border checkpost, there is no “No Mans Land”. In Nathula Pass the border consists of a barbed wire where armies of both India and China, guard their side of land. Tourists need to abandon their vehicles, few paces away from the Nathula Pass to reach the actual border. Due to the Indo China War, this legendary trade route was closed down in 1961. Recently, after a negotiation between the two countries, trading on some commodities has been resumed recently.
You have to climb around 90 steps to reach the border gates and memorial. Climbing this high altitude pass is quite tiresome. So, it is advised not to rush up the stairs, as you may go out of breath after sometime. As you get close to the border, you can see Chinese armed forces shielding their side of the border. You can sometimes shake hands with the Chinese soldiers across the border. Contrary to popular belief, tourists are allowed to take photographs in and around this high altitude pass. Soldiers from both sides pose with the tourists. The Nathula Pass stays fully closed for tourists usually on Mondays and Tuesdays. However, on other days of the week, it closes by 1:30 pm.
Best time to visit Nathula Pass:Nathula Pass experiences heavy snowfall during winter. The temperature of the region may drop down to a sheer -25 degree C. However, if you are fond of snow, you can visit Nathula Pass in winter with proper garments. The sight of the snow capped mountains and snow covered valleys on all sides will make you feel out of the world. May to mid November is the summer time in Nathula, when the temperature ranges around 10 degree C.
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