Nathu La is an international high mountain pass at an elevation of 4.310m (14,140ft) above the sea level, located in the Himalayas, on the border between China and India.
The road over the pass is paved and it links the Indian state of Sikkim with China's Tibet Autonomous Region. 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 pass, also called Nathula, Natu La or Natula, 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. On the Indian side, on the way to the pass, there's a famous lake, called Tsomgo Lake.
The road starts in Gangtok, the capital of the northern Indian state of Sikkim. It’s called Jawaharlal Nehru Road and is mostly paved. Don’t stuff your belly too much. Eventually, you might feel vomiting temptations while climbing circuitous roads at higher altitudes. And people don’t like to open window to invite freezing air inside. The drive is extreme. But no longer so, proper road has been built, although condition of the road usually remains bad due to snowy & foul weather conditions. The road is really steep. It’s a winding road through rugged mountain terrain and sharp cliffs that takes you to the pass.
The road over the pass can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. Avalanches and heavy snowfalls can sometimes block some sections of the road and can be extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. During the months of may-june when it rains quite heavily landslides occur very frequently. Nathula Pass experiences heavy snowfall during winter.
Pic: debasish borgohain