Nathula, 55 kms from Gangtok, is a mountain pass through the Himalayas connecting India and China. It is at an altitude of 14000 ft above sea level.
To go to Nathula, one needs a permit from the Indian government. It is open to Indian citizens only on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. We were asked to submit two passport size photos and two photo ID proofs (our tour operator insisted on our passports towards ID proof).
We were there just two days after the roads were thrown open after a major landslide in September which had killed four people.
What was truly a spine-chilling experience was traveling on these roads or non-existent roads. One, the roads become very narrow in places; two, rains and the waterfalls which exist everywhere in Sikkim ensure that road gets washed away. Where there is a strong waterfall, it is not possible to have a road, and your vehicle actually rides over the stones to travel across. Three, all the slush on the roads jeopardize your travel further, as you never know when the vehicle could simply slide 14000 ft to the land below. Though there is lovely scenery and nature filled with trees, mountains and waterfalls all around, you are rudely brought back to the real world with all the rocking and rolling of the car. Most of the time you sit through the journey praying and hoping you make it through. At one place, we waited quite some time for the crane to clear away huge boulders from the route which had come rolling down due to landslide. People are known to be stranded overnight for this very reason. And while returning, unless you manage to climb down before 5 pm, the diminishing visibility only makes things worse. Not for the faint-hearted, this experience!
For a complete review of Nathula, pl visit my blog@ http://subhavaranasi.blogspot.in/2012/11/sikkim-travel-to-nathula-pass-spine.html
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