Nathula Pass Travel Guide

Nathula Pass is a mountain pass in the Himalayas in the Indian state of Sikkim that connects Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Located around 56 km’s from Sikkim’s capital city Gangtok at an altitude of 14450 ft. I am going to share everything about Nathula Pass which is one of the offbeat destinations in India where you should visit once in a lifetime.

What Does “Nathula” Word Mean?

The word Nathula is made up of two terms – Nathu and La, which have their own meanings. Nathu basically means “listening ears,” and La means “pass” in Tibetan. This pass is about 54 km east of the capital city, Gangtok on the Indian side.

Nathula Pass Visiting Days

Tourists are allowed to see the international border from close such that you can see Chinese soldiers on the other side. Nathula Pass is only open for Indian visitors for 5 days a week including Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and closed on Monday & Tuesday for two days. You will only be allowed after you get a permit to visit it through a registered Travel Agency. Foreigners aren’t allowed and photography is strictly prohibited.

How To Get Nathula Pass Permit?

Nathula Pass permit procedure is issued by Sikkim Tourism Department in Gangtok. You can either get your permit through a registered tour agency or ask your hotel to get it. You will need to submit documents like a photo ID proof and two passport size photographs and you will get your permit by the next morning.

Nathu La Pass permit cost is Rs.200 per person and children below 4 years of age aren’t issued (don’t allow) a permit. However, you can take them at your own risk. (T&C)

Nathula Pass Weather

The months from May to October are considered as summers in Nathula with temperatures ranging from a minimum 15º C to a maximum of 20º C. It is advisable that you pack heavy woolen clothing even in summers.

Winters are extremely cold here temperatures falls to -25º C, which makes it too cold to survive even. Winters start from November and peaks in December to February. Due to bad weather Nathula covered in snow but the route usually remains open. If you are visiting Nathula during these months do not forget to pick up snow boots and heavy winter wears. Stalls on the way also offer snow gears on rent.

The mountains are green in September with no snow in the town. The weather would still be chilly with winds. You might feel snow winds on higher reaches.

What is the Best Time to Visit Nathula Pass?

From April to Mid-June and October to November, you can visit Nathula Pass as the temperature around these months is less than or equal to 10 degrees celsius. Although snowfall is common here. So, if you receive snowfall during your visit, you might be lucky enough to experience Nathula Pass beauty. However, June to September is the monsoon season in India and during this time it receives an heavy rainfall and chances of landslides may occur. Nathula’s pass visiting days are – Wednesday to Sunday, and it gets closed on Monday and Tuesday for the public.

Does Nathula Pass Remain Open In December For Tourists?

There is less chance that it remains open in December as Nathula Pass temperature drops down to -25 degrees celsius. During winters, it receives heavy rainfall, and it might be quite risky for the lives of tourists. Hence, most people avoid this time from visiting Nathula Pass. Although, visiting Nathula Pass in December depends on weather conditions. Tourists can visit Nathula if there is no heavy snowfall and the routes are open to the public. So, you just need to hope for the best.

What are the Tourist Attractions in Nathula Pass?

1. Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple

Built in memory of army personnel, Harbhajan Singh who died near Nathula on 4th of October, 1968, this temple is a popular attraction in Sikkim. The temple is located between Nathula and Jelepla pass at an altitude of about 13,123 feet from the sea level and is approximately 52 km away from Gangtok.

Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, Sikkim

Tourists to Nathula often visit the temple as well, which has a touching story behind it. Harbhajan Singh was a Sentry of Punjab Regiment, who disappeared in October 1968 when he was posted here as part of Nathula border patrol force. It is said that he fell into a stream and drowned, a few days later reappeared in the dreams of one of his sentry colleagues asking him to build a memorial here on his name. The sentries then built his Samadhi which later was transformed into the temple. The guards believe that his spirit is still alive and will protect them in this very difficult terrain.

2. Mandakini Falls

It is one of the best picturesque hamlets in Nathula Pass tour. Water that falls from the height forms rainbow around the water, adding beauty to this place. You can easily find tea and food stalls near this fall. It is a highly recommended place to visit if you’re a nature lover.

Mandakini Falls, Sikkim

3. Tsomgo Lake

It is also known as Tsongmo Lake or Changu Lake and is a glacial lake located in the Indian state, Sikkim. Changu Lake is located at an elevation of 12,313 feet above sea level and remains frozen during the winter season. To visit this lake, one needs a special permit from the Tourism And Civil Aviation Department of Sikkim.

Changu Tsomgo Lake, Sikkim

How To Reach Nathula Pass?

You will get shared jeeps and reserved vehicles like Scorpio, Innova, Bolero and Sumo to Nathula from Gangtok. It usually is a full one day trip including visits to Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir along with Nathula. Nathula is around 56 km from Gangtok, which is roughly a one and a half hour drive but due to road conditions, snow, and landslides, traffic can get held up for hours.

The cost varies depending on the season. During peak season (April to June and October to November) shared vehicle would cost about Rs. 700 per person for a visit to all three (Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir and Nathula) including permit fee while a reserved vehicle like Scorpio or Innova would cost around Rs. 7,000 including permits. During low season, the reserved vehicle would cost around Rs. 5,500 and shared vehicles are usually not available.

Click here to Get Direction from your Location

Are There Any Precautions To Take Before Visiting Nathula Pass?

Few of you might face breathing problems in Nathula due to its high altitude as oxygen level is quite low in the atmosphere of Nathula. Hence, people with breathing problems should consult a doctor before going to Nathula Pass. You can also carry portable oxygen cylinders along with you to avoid breathing problems if possible.

Hope this blog helps you. You can also leave comments in the comment box given below and let us know whether you liked it or not.

Deepak Patel
Hi, I am Deepak Patel, An Indian travel blogger. Like the name of my blog, I always seek for some thrilling travel experienced, especially in undiscovered places of India. My objective is to show you all the real ancient India which possess lots of historical wealth that we should know about. Whatever, I achieved through my travels, I share with my readers to let them have a better knowledge about the real, untouched natural and historical beauty of the my land India.