Nathu La Pass is on the Chinese border with India. It is at an elevation of 14,140 feet. You can cross the border and enter China if you have valid travel documents. But China has closed the border recently due to a border dispute with India.
In China’s Tibet Autonomous Region is Kailash Manasarovar. Many Indian pilgrims visit the place every year and they used to pass through Nathu La. But this year they were turned back as the border was closed. However the border posts in Lipulekh in Uttarakand and Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh are still open.
Only Indian nationals are allowed to visit Nathu La. A permit is needed from the military authorities in Gangtok. A limited number of passes are issued in a day. Nathu La remains closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays. Photography is not allowed.
The place is at a high altitude and oxygen levels remain low. Breathlessness is experienced by many visitors when climbing up to the border. Remember to walk slowly and stop if you feel any discomfort.
Weather can change quickly at Nathu La during the course of a day. In the months of May to October, the temperatures hover around 10 to 15 deg C. In the peak of winter, temperatures may drop as low as -25 deg C. When it snows heavily in winter, the route to Nathu La remains closed.
Nathu La Pass is 56 km from Gangtok. The trip can be completed in 2 hours if there is no traffic. It is best to start from Gangtok by 7:00 am to avoid traffic jams. We came across several military trucks on the route. A number of army camps were seen near the border.
I found this engaging sign on the Gangtok-Nathula Road. Black Cats Division of Indian Army guards Sikkim borders. The formation sign on top is that of the Black Cats.