Mountain Passes

The mountain chains which run southwards from the main Himalayan range form the natural boundaries of Sikkim. Located between these towering mountain ranges are passes like Nathu-la, Jelep-la, Cho-la and many others which were at one time important corridors of passage between Sikkim and Tibet.

Some of the important passes are:

:: Nathula Pass ::

Nathula Pass was a major corridor of passage between India and Tibet before it was closed in 1962. Located around 55 kms from Gangtok at an altitude of 14,400 ft, the road to Nathula passes through the Tsomgo Lake. It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and is richly surrounded by alpine flora. On a clear day you can even see the road winding down the Chumbi valley. Tourists are allowed to go close to the international border from where you can see Chinese soldiers on the other side of the barbed wire. Nathula is open for Indian nationals on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; 5 days a week. The visitors have to get the permit to visit the place by applying to the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department through a registered Travel Agency. Foreign nationals are not allowed to visit Nathula. Photography is strictly prohibited.

:: Jelep La Pass ::

Nearly 46 metres (150 feet) in length and situated at an altitude of 4,386 metres, Jelep La like Nathula falls on the Eastern border of Sikkim. The Pass itself is bleak, barren and desolate, where the wind howls all night, all year round. But it also offers a breathtaking view over the famous Younghusband Trail.

:: Dongkia Pass ::

Donkia-la in North Sikkim serves as a link between the Lachung and Lachen valleys. From the Pass you can see the great Tibetan Plateau in the distant horizon. On the North side of the plateau, standing at an altitude of 5,518 meters is the calm and placid Cholamo Lake, 6.5 km long and 2.5 km wide.

:: Chiwabhanjang Pass ::

Chiwabhanjang in West Sikkim is at an altitude of 3,143 meters. At Chiwabhanjang are two small lakes known as Bhut-Pokaris. An inspection bungalow stands in ruins at Chiwabhanjang, a silent witness to the British presence here in the old days, to protect Sikkim from attacks from Nepal. It is also possible to reach Chiwabhanjang from Uttarey in Sikkim through a 3 hour steep trek.