Road trip guide: Conquering Nathu La Pass in the Himalayas
Nathu La is an international high mountain pass at an elevation of 4.310m (14,140ft) above the sea level, on the border between China and India.
Can you drive to Nathu La?
The pass connects Yadong County (of the Tibet region of China, part of its Shigatse Prefecture) and the mountainous northern Indian state of Sikkim. Travelling to the area is difficult: a valid permit to visit the pass is given to only Indian nationals. Photography is strictly prohibited. One can find ATM facility here which is the world’s highest Automated Teller Machine. On the Indian side, on the way to the pass, there's a famous lake, called Tsomgo Lake.
Is the road to Nathu La paved?
The road to the summit, also known as Nathula, Natu La or Natula, is totally paved. It is one of the three open trading border posts between China and India and is located 54 km (34 mi) east of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim and 430 km (270 mi) from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. It’s a winding road through rugged mountain terrain and sharp cliffs that takes you to the pass. Condition of the road usually remains bad due to snowy and foul weather conditions. At this elevation you might face breathing issues because of the thin air.
Is the road to Nathu La open?
Set high in the Dongkya Range of the Himalayas, on the Indo-Tibetan border, access to the pass is typically open all year round, with the occasional closure in winters due to dangerous weather conditions. Nathula Pass experiences heavy snowfall during winter that restricts border trade to around 7 to 8 months. The temperature here remains low for most parts. During the months of May-June when it rains quite heavily landslides occur very frequently. Nathu La Pass is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Pic: debasish borgohain