Nathula Pass, Gangtok in September
Are you an off season traveler planning to visit Gangtok, Sikkim in September?
Are you trying to find out whether its good or bad to visit Nathula Pass in off season?
Here, I have jotted down my travel notes of visiting Nathula pass in September 2013. So, read on to get the answers.
The Scenic Way and Tsongmo Lake
The way to Nathula pass is very scenic and beautiful. You will go through mountains and valleys for 3 to 4 hours in your hired Jeep/ Scorpio and cross Tsongmo lake in between. The path is surrounded by snow clad mountains from November through June. However, the mountains are green in September and the views of the valley are often obscured by fog and clouds. The clear and still water of Tsongmo is a lovely sight. You may want to sit besides it for hours and do nothing. However, you would not have time for that, as you need to return to Gangtok city by evening. Overall, you will get 20 – 30 minutes each in Nathula Pass and Tsongmo lake.
The weather is unpredictable in the mountains and landslides are very common in this area. These landslides create blockage and traffic jam on the narrow mountain roads. It is suggested that you start from Gangtok by 7 – 8 am and try to reach back by 5 pm.
Cost and Tips
Nathula pass is a day trip from Gangtok City and you need to compulsorily hire a 4X 4 powered vehicle for it. Hiring a Scorpio would cost you 3000 INR in off season and up to 4000 INR otherwise. Also, you need to carry your Id, address proof and photographs to get necessary permits.
It was chilly at 14000 ft (Nathula Pass) with mild rain and winds during September. It was difficult to bear it even for 20 minutes. It is recommended to wear layered clothing.
On the way back from Nathula (just 100 metres from the main gate of Nathula Pass entry) there’s a non CSD canteen, which is open to tourists. Here, you can get cheap really Chinese stuff. You may get jackets (ladies and Kids, north face) for as low as INR 300. The same items costed close to 3000 INR at MG Road, Gangtok. Men’s Summit series of North Face were available in Rs 1500, which were around 8000 INR at M.G. Road. Also, there were other Chinese stuff for gift items, souvenirs.
I seriously recommend travellers not to visit it from jun to mid oct.