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The word 'Nathu-la' means the whistling pass. This is one of the highest motor able roads of the world, which is situated at a height of 14200 ft. Nathu la is a mountain pass between India and Chinese Tibet at a distance of about 56 kilometres from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. The Indian tourists are only allowed to visit the place, as this is the international border between India and China. International tourists may visit till nearby Tsongmo lake which is about 17 kms before Nathula.

Getting There

The tourists visiting Nathu-la must go through a travel agency who collect the permits in advance. Each tourist has to submit passport photograph and identification document in advance. Permit is given only on specified dates in limited numbers. As a result there is severe shortage of passes to during high season. We recommend you to get in touch with our experts a month in advance for travelling to Nathula.

Vehicles start from Gangtok in the morning between 8 and 10 AM. The trip normally covers a visit to Baba Mandir and Tsongmo lake along with Nathula visit. You can expect to be back to Gangtok by the afternoon. The road is through precarious mountains and often not in great shape. Landslide during rainy season and heavy snowfall during winter is also common. You should be carrying heavy woollens during the travel. Under normal condition travel time from Gangtok is about 2.5 hours one way, but the travel time may vary widely depending on present road condition.


The weather in these high altitude area is not very stable or predictable. Mostly weather remains clear during the morning but as the day progresses it may become foggy and cloudy and snowfall is common in the afternoon. It is recommended to visit Nathula early and return to lower altitude by afternoon. Snowfall may occur any time of year as you are above the snow line here. On a clear day the temperature may be as high as 20 degree Celsius, night time temperature throughout the year remains close to freezing point. Temperature during the winter may remain below freezing point throughout the day.

The main attraction of Nathula is the ability to see Indo-China boarder. The Chinese Red Army as well as Indian army personal can be seen here protecting their respective countries. The area remains snow covered for a major part of the year and scenic beauty of the surrounding is also very attractive.

Nathu la is also one of the few trading border posts between India and China. For hundreds of years trade between Tibet and India was done through Nathula and Jelepla (nearby). Since the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1962, both passes remained closed. In recent past Nathu la has been opened for limited trade between the two countries. On specified days, you may see the business people from both sides of boarder engaging in trade here.

Nathu la is also famous for the highest ATM in the world. The ATM is managed by Axis bank of India.

Tourists visiting Nathu la also visit Tsongmo lake which is 17 kms before the border pass. More information on Tsongmo Lake

Standard tours to Nathula also includes visit to Baba Harbhajan Mandir about 9 kms further from here. More information on Baba Mandir

It is also possible to visit other high altitude attractions of East Sikkim such as Memnchu Lake, Kupup etc in the same trip. But you will need to have special permits for this tour which is not covered by normal tour permits.

Map of Nathula Pass

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