Sikkim's serenity - How to cover Nathula Pass in 1 day? - Voyage with Vrinda

Photo of Sikkim's serenity - How to cover Nathula Pass in 1 day? - Voyage with Vrinda by Vrinda Dujari

This post is in continuation with my previous post - Sikkim's Serenity - How to plan 1 day Gangtok trip?; in which I have covered the town of Gangtok in detail. In this post, I am writing about the second day of the trip in which we explored Nathula pass and a few other popular tourist attractions nearby.

About Nathula Pass

Nathula is a mountain pass situated at an altitude of 14,000 ft., about 56 km east of Gangtok and it connects Sikkim to China's Tibet autonomous region. Only Indian citizens can visit the pass and that too after obtaining a permit in Gangtok.

The only way to get there is by car. The condition of the road from Gangtok to Nathu La is not good at all and therefore traveling in a sturdy vehicle like Sumo, Scorpio, Innova, etc. is advisable. The best option is to take a reserved vehicle that can be arranged by your hotel manager; which you will be sharing with other fellow tourists.

When we just reached Nathu La mountain pass

Photo of Nathula Pass - India, Yadong County, Nathilapass, Sikkim, India by Vrinda Dujari

You need to get a permit to visit Nathu La mountain pass, for which you need two passport-size photographs and a copy of photo ID proof along with the original.

Your hotel manager shall take care of the permit formalities but you need to submit the documents to them 24 hours prior to the day you're planning to visit. This is the reason we kept Nathu La for the 3rd day and finished the permit formalities on the 2nd day).

Also, don't forget to keep tablets of Diamox with you and take one; about 24 - 48 hours before you reach Nathu La so that you don't have breathing problems at such a high altitude.

We stopped here to have lunch on our way to Nathu La

Photo of Sikkim's serenity - How to cover Nathula Pass in 1 day? - Voyage with Vrinda by Vrinda Dujari

You will be joining a group tour that will cover places like Tsomgo lake, Baba Harbhajan Singh temple, and Nathula pass and will cost you around INR 800 - INR 1000; which will include the cost of a permit and your round trip from Gangtok to Nathu La. You will have to take out a whole day for this tour.

Reaching Nathula Pass

You will start your journey at around 8 am from Gangtok. Your vehicle will be a part of a convoy of other vehicles which will stop at 2-3 checkpoints for documents and permit verification.

The journey from Gangtok to Nathu La pass, Sikkim is a nostalgic one. Since you will get to witness all the landscapes you used to draw in art classes during the olden times. Sights of white waterfalls, verdant terrains, and yaks roaming at every turn of the road will leave you mesmerized.

Photo of Sikkim's serenity - How to cover Nathula Pass in 1 day? - Voyage with Vrinda by Vrinda Dujari

After around 2 hours of drive, you will reach Tsomgo lake (40 km from Gangtok). But you will visit the lake on the return journey; after visiting Nathu La because there are some time restrictions to visit the pass.

Once you reach Nathu La, you will need to leave your mobile phones and cameras inside your vehicle as they don't allow you to take any pictures of the region (so I don't have any pictures of the place 😐).

Your vehicle will stop at Nathu La for about 45 minutes. At the pass, you will be able to see both Indian and Chinese soldiers guarding the Indo-Chinese border.

Nearby Attractions

1. Tsomgo Lake AKA Changu Lake

After visiting Nathu La, you will leave for Tsomgo lake. Tsomgo lake is more popularly known as Changu lake. It is a glacial lake that remains frozen during the winter season.

This location offers ideal lake scenery with huts and prayer flags all around.

Tsomgo Lake aka Changu Laka

Photo of TSOMGO LAKE, Sikkim by Vrinda Dujari

The yak herders of the region gave the name Tsomgo, which means "above the lake". The old folklore says that the lake was in a place called Laten earlier and the place where the lake is today was actually a " Goth " (cattle shed) where the herders kept their yaks.

One night, an old woman in her dreams was told to leave the place as it would be filled with water the next day.

The next morning she warned all her herder friends about the same but they all refused to believe her.

Photo of Sikkim's serenity - How to cover Nathula Pass in 1 day? - Voyage with Vrinda by Vrinda Dujari
Photo of Sikkim's serenity - How to cover Nathula Pass in 1 day? - Voyage with Vrinda by Vrinda Dujari

The lady anyway left the place and as soon as she left, she saw a lady with flowing hair. The lady with flowing hair was believed to be the guardian deity of the lake, entering the valley and soon the place was filled with water and Tsomgo lake was thus formed.

The other herders perished in the water along with herds of yak. You will see a lot of yaks around the lake as well.

2. Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple

After Tsomgo lake you'll visit Baba Harbhajan Singh temple. Here is a shrine that was built in memory of Baba Harbhajan Singh, Indian army personnel.

Indian flag at Baba Harbhajan Singh temple, Sikkim

Photo of Baba Harbhajan Singh Temple, East Sikkim, Sikkim, India by Vrinda Dujari

There is a very interesting story behind this temple. Baba Harbhajan Singh died in a battle during the Sino-Indian war in 1965.

Legend has it that his spirit still guides and protects the soldiers posted there in this physically exhausting region.

It also keeps warning them about any upcoming attack from across the border.

They also say that during the flag meetings between India and China, the latter always reserves an empty chair for him as a token of respect.

All in all, it is a must-visit place for anyone who loves military history, stories, and incidents of heroic gestures by our young soldiers and officers.

After that, you'll leave for Gangtok and will reach at around 5 pm.

This completed our Gangtok trip and after that, we left for Pelling via south Sikkim the next day.

Other Things to Know

Nathula Pass Temperature - Ranges from -20°C to 17°C

Nathula Pass Height - 14,000 ft.

Read about more places covered in Sikkim on