Nathula Pass Overview

Nathula Pass, perched at 14,140 feet in the Himalayas, connects Sikkim with Tibet. This historic pass was once a bustling segment of the Silk Route. It now offers visitors stunning views of snow-capped mountains and lush valleys. Open for trade and tourism, it embodies a mix of natural beauty and geopolitical significance.

Nathula Pass is one of the highest motorable passes in the world. It is located at a dizzying height of 14,140 feet in the Eastern Himalayas. Nathula is also a symbol of India's rich history and vibrant natural beauty. This high-altitude pass on the Indo-China border is more than just a scenic spot. It also serves as a bridge between the ancient and the modern, connecting Sikkim to Tibet's Chumbi Valley. Once a vital part of the historic Silk Route, Nathula has stories of trade, culture, and diplomacy woven into its trails. Today, it stands as a testament to peace and friendship between India and China, drawing tourists with its mix of breathtaking landscapes and intriguing history.

This pass, with 'Nathu' meaning 'listening ears' and 'La' denoting 'pass' in Tibetan, is enveloped in clouds and snow for most of the year. It offers visitors a glimpse of the pristine beauty of the snow-covered mountains. The road to Nathula is an adventure itself, winding through rugged mountain terrains. The journey is complete with spectacular waterfalls and the serene Tsomgo Lake, enhancing the overall experience. 

In addition to being a border post, Nathula is also a symbol of historic trade routes and a witness to the bravery of soldiers who guard our frontiers. The area around the pass is steeped in tales of heroism. This includes the legend of Baba Harbhajan Singh, a soldier who is believed to still guard the borders in spirit. Tourists visiting Nathula can pay homage to the war memorial or feel the thrill of standing at the international border. This pass is a gateway to understanding the blend of culture, history, and nature that defines Sikkim.


• Engage in a scenic trek to Tsomgo Lake, surrounded by high peaks and lush meadows.
• Enjoy a unique Yak ride, a popular activity offering a memorable experience.
• Discover the serene beauty of Menmecho Lake via a tranquil trek from Baba Mandir.
• Gaze upon the grandeur of the Indo-China border, flanked by massive gates and barbed wires
• Salute the bravery of soldiers at the Watershed War Memorial, commemorating their sacrifices.

How To Reach

To visit Nathula Pass, one must reach Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim. Located on the Indo-China border, Nathula Pass is about 58.3 kilometres from Gangtok.

  • From Gangtok to Nathula Pass: Once in Gangtok, Nathula Pass can only be reached by road. The distance to Nathula from Gangtok is 58.3 kilometres (2 hours). Since Nathula is a border area, all visitors need a permit which can be obtained through registered travel agencies in Gangtok.
  • By Car or Taxi: Hiring a private vehicle or a taxi is the most convenient way to reach Nathula Pass from Gangtok. The journey takes about 2 to 3 hours and covers approximately 58.3 kilometres. The route is scenic, with breathtaking views of the Himalayan range. It also passes through Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir, which are popular stops en route to Nathula.
  • By Shared Jeep: Shared jeeps are also available from Gangtok to Nathula Pass, offering a more economical option. These vehicles usually depart early in the morning and include stops at Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir.

Best Time To Visit

Nathula Pass, a stunning high-altitude gateway, welcomes visitors year-round. It offers unique experiences each time you visit. 

  • Best Season: Nathula remains closed during the winter months (December to March). Therefore, opt for a visit between May and October. This period provides clear, panoramic views under pleasant weather conditions. It is also a great time to see the surrounding Himalayas or enjoy yak rides here.
  • Best Day: Nathula Pass remains open for Indian nationals from Wednesdays to Sundays. From Wednesday to Friday, it has a quieter and more relaxed ambience. 
  • Best Time of Day: The pass is accessible from 09:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m. Plan your visit during the morning to enjoy serene vistas and a tranquil atmosphere before the day's crowds arrive.

Other Essential Information

  • Get your permit early as it is necessary for Indian nationals to visit.
  • Wear layers because temperatures can unexpectedly drop, even during summer.
  • Bring your ID proof as you will be near an international border.
  • Start your day early to avoid crowds and have more time to explore.
  • Stay hydrated as high altitudes can quickly lead to dehydration.
  • Don't forget your camera to capture the stunning landscapes.
  • Give yourself time to adjust to the high altitude to avoid sickness.

Also Checkout - 5 Days Sikkim Tour

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Day Wise Timings
Normal Timings:
Normal Timings:
Normal Timings:
08:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
08:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
08:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
08:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Normal Timings:
08:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Point of Interest for Nathula Pass
Salute the Brave at the War Memorial

Salute the Brave at the War Memorial

Pay your respects at the War Memorial, a tribute to the heroes of the Indo-China war. Situated near the pass, the memorial offers a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by soldiers to protect their country. Standing there, with the flags fluttering against the backdrop of majestic mountains, evokes a deep sense of patriotism and gratitude. The memorial, adorned with inscriptions and names of the fallen, serves as a historical document of bravery and sacrifice.

Embrace Serenity at Tsomgo Lake

Embrace Serenity at Tsomgo Lake

Just a short drive from Nathula, discover the tranquil Tsomgo Lake, nestled at an altitude of 12,400 feet. This glacial lake is also known as Changu Lake. It changes colours with the seasons and is surrounded by steep mountains. A yak ride along its shores offers a unique way to explore the area. The lake is considered sacred, adding a mystical allure to its natural beauty. During winters, the lake transforms into a frozen spectacle, attracting tourists for ice skating and snowball fights.

Visit Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir

Visit Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandir

Visit the shrine dedicated to Baba Harbhajan Singh, a soldier who is revered by both army personnel and civilians. Locals believe that Baba’s spirit protects the soldiers along the border. The temple, located near Nathula and Tsomgo Lake, is a testament to the deep respect and honour the soldiers are held in. The stories of Baba's benevolence and bravery add a spiritual dimension to your journey. Devotees often leave a bottle of water to be blessed at the shrine, believing it to carry healing properties when consumed.

Marvel at the Indo-China Border Gates

Marvel at the Indo-China Border Gates

Stand at the Indo-China border gates, where you can see the physical divide between two great nations. It is a unique place where you can observe the friendly interactions between the Indian and Chinese soldiers. This spot offers a rare insight into the dynamics of international borders. The sight of national flags flying high against the backdrop of the Himalayas is a powerful image that stays with you long after your visit. The presence of a “Friendship Bridge” at the site symbolizes attempts at peace and cooperation between India and China. It makes Nathula an important spot for visitors to contemplate the complexities of international relations.

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