About Nathula pass permission:
– You need vehicle permission to visit Nathula pass, the process starts one day in advance as there is limitation on number of vehicles per day to the border.
– The passes are generally arranged by the person who helps you in arranging the vehicle.You need to carry photographs and Identity proofs and actual passes are given in the morning to travel to Nathula.
– It costs around 1000 per person in shared vehicle and exclusive ones might charge around 5000-6000.Nathula is open to Indian visitors only on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturday and Sundays.
– I preferred visiting the Nathula in winters because of snow, frozen lakes & less crowd. However, most of the people suggest traveling Nathula in Late March, April and May. Traveling in summer can be problem(at-times because of early monsoons) because of landslides. However, Rainfall and cloud covers including fog may also hamper the visibility. Monsoon period between June to September in off-season in Sikkim because of these problems. Traveling becomes extremely tedious will long detours and and at times waiting for hours for road to be cleared.
– Please be updated with latest information about Nathula pass from Internet.
After spending some spellbinding time at Kyongnosla waterfall and Changu (Tsomgo) lake, we moved ahead towards Nathu la pass at Indo-China border at almost 14000 feet.
As we moved ahead of Changu (Tsomgo) lake, the abruptness and inclination of the hills increased. The weather turned out to be cold and dry even when warm sun was there. Vehicle moved heavily.
The dome of the house at the border seen in the picture over hills
Roads were parked with snows both sides. This part of the Himalayan range was barren and futile with patches of brown grasses, wired fences, small bushes, shrubs, snow and boulders. Amidst these was a narrow road taking us to the Indo-china border.
It was first time in my life when I would be standing across fences. We reached there and the first view of the border was like a temple of thousand sacrifices to me. One and only word which instantly came out of our mouth was “Bharat mata ki jai”.
Something I learned at 14000 feet:
Some of the physical changes that I experienced were decreased hearing ability due to cold; you cant climb the stairs running, it took us almost 10 minutes to climb around 100 stairs. Due to pressure difference at such higher altitude, climbing up a single ladder requires much energy.
The border was mostly painted in saffron which is a color of sacrifice. Even the ladders that took us to the fence were painted in saffron indicating the sacrifices of the martyrs protecting our border. I felt proud to see the tricolor hoisted at the border and representing the true spirit of India at 14000 feet with pride.
And, when we reached border, first thing we could not resist to see was a Chinese soldier. A doll, fully covered in winter suits. Shake hands and take photographs.
He also took our photographs. Someone said after taking our photographs they sent our photos to their military HQ. Whatever, I did not mind sending my photo to Chinese military HQ. It was very funny to know that Indian soldiers call them “Basanti”.
The location was extraordinary. We were at thousands year old silk route. There were frozen lakes, brown grasses, barren mountains stretched square miles.
At Nathu La pass:
–Temperature dips to -25 in winters. –There is no “no man’s land” at the border only fencing is there. –Very strong and cold winds can swipe you over. –Purchase Chinese coins, A certificate to visit to Nathu la from shop at the border. — In the local market, take a look at a few Chinese products
–Enjoy squared Himalayan ranges, brown grasses, White sparkling snow in the sun
–Shake hands with Chinese soldiers, take tons of photographs of area around — enjoy the magnificent Himalayan ranges and peaks around –And in the end, feel blood of an Indian running in your veins
After spending some time there at border, we started descending down.
Baba Harbhajan Singh Shrine, Nathula pass
The Shrine of Baba Harbhajan is almost 15 kilometers from Nathu la. There is a story behind this shrine. Here are few direct lines from Wikipedia:
Major Harbhajan Singh drowned in a glacier following the 1962 Sino-Indian War in 1968 while escorting a column of mules to a remote outpost. A manhunt was launched to find him. He was found after three days and cremated with full military honours. According to legend, it was Major Harbhajan Singh who led the search party to his body, and later, through a dream, instructed one of his colleagues to build and maintain a shrine after him.
Legend also has it that in the event of a war between India and China, Baba would warn the Indian soldiers three days in advance. During the flag meetings between the two nations at Nathula, the Chinese set a chair aside for the saint. Every year on September 14, a jeep departs with his personal belongings to the nearest railway station, New Jalpaiguri, where it is then sent by train to his village. As per train rule the train reserved seat never left blank, but for baba reservation is done to travel him at his home town every year with soldiers to drop Baba at his home town. A small sum is also sent to his mother each month.
Every story comes to an end and our journey to0 came to an end. We returned back to our stay by evening leaving behind the guarding soldiers in winter at border, frozen lakes, great Himalayan wilderness, sparkling snows, brown grasses etc behind.