Nathu La is an important Himalayan pass in India. Nathu La is derived from two words Nathu and La. Nathu means Listening and La means Pass. This is located 54kms from Gangtok which is in Sikkim. Between India and China there are 3 open trading borders. Nathu La is one of the trading Borders. During the summer season tourists rush is more. During 1873, Deputy Commissioner of Darjeeling made a survey laying stress on strategic importance of mountain passes between Tibet and Sikkim. At that time potential of Nathu La came to know to the people. This was opened for trade in 1894.
In September 1967, Chinese and Indian soldiers fought against each other for 6 days in Nathu La. After that this place was closed till 2006. This place was reopened on 71st birthday of 14th Dalai Lama. During the years of Nathu La closed, only Chinese post man was allowed to enter into the borders to handover letters from either side of the border.
What to see in Nathu La:
Tsomgo Lake: This is located in East Sikkim which is 38kms away from Gangtok. This is the holy lake for the Sikkim people. To visit this place Inner Line Permit is essential from the police. Entire Lake gets frozen during the winter season. Before 1962, Caravans of mules transferred goods through this route.
Nathula Pass: It is located between Indo Chinese Border which passes through Tsongo Lake. Earlier this was the trade route between Indian and Tibetan Merchants. Throughout the year this is covered with snow. In 1950, huge number of people migrated from Tibet to India through this pass. Foreign tourists are not allowed. Indian are allowed only on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and on Sunday with special permission. Only specific vehicles are allowed to pass on selected days. This border protected by Chinese soldiers. Visitors are not allowed at international border.
Flora and Fauna: Flora and Fauna is one of the major attractions of Nathu La. This region has only 4 months growing season. In that season Aconitum, Primula, Pedicularis, Meconopsis are grown abundantly. Major attractions of this place are Ruddy Shelduck, Golden Eagle, Raven, Tibetan Snowcock, Tibetan Wolf, Snow Leopard, and Tibetan Gazelle. During the monsoon season medicinal shrubs and grasses grow abundantly.
What to see around Nathu La:
Gangtok: This is the best place to view the beauty of Kanchenjunga. Major attractions of this place are Hanuman Tok, Namgyal Institute, Deorali Orchid Sanctuary, Do-Drul Chorten Stupa, Tashi Viewpoint, Tsuk La Khang Monastery, White Hill, Ban Jhakri Falls, and Mt.Katao.
Namgyal Institute: This is a Tibet museum which was inaugurated in 1958 by Jawaharlal Nehru. Major attractions of this museum are ancient manuscripts, wide collection of thangkas, statues, Tibetan works. It is located 37kms away from Nathu La.
Getting to Nathu La: Before reaching to Nathu La visitors has to reach to Gangtok. Gangtok is well connected with road and railway. From the major cities such as Patna, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Nagpur etc buses and trains are available to reach Gangtok. Nearest airport is located at Bagdogra which is 84kms away from Nathu La.
Getting around Nathu La: Best way to explore Nathu La is through trekking. Taxis are another option to see the surrounding places.
Best time to visit Nathu La: Best time to visit this place is between March to May.
Where to stay in Nathu La: Accommodations are not available in Nathu La. Visitors need to stay at Gangtok. Plenty of accommodations starting from budget hotels to luxury hotels are available in Gangtok. Cost of Budget hotels is Rs.795 and cost of luxury hotels is Rs.4500.
Where to eat in Nathu La: Only Limited options are available to eat in Nathu La. only Snack items are available.