Nathang Valley : The silk road travel guide
Nathang is called Ladakh of East Sikkim. Nathang valley is locally known as Gnathang Valley is situated at an altitude of 12,700 feet above sea level. Nathang village is one of the remotest Tibetian habitations in Eastern Himalaya. Here one can experience chilled wind waves blowing all around. Nathang usually remain snow covered from January to April. This time the whole valley become white desert. Govt. of Sikkim is planning to start skiing in winter. This village is one of the part of Old Silk route which connected India with China.
What to see :
Durga and Krishna Temple : There are two temples standing side by side. Vibrant colour of these temples is very eye catching in this arid region.
Frozen Pond: There is a frozen pond just behind the Durga temple. Brahmin duck is a common species spotted here certainly.
Buddhist Monastery : In the extreme right of the valley there is a small Buddhist Monastery.
British cemetery: At Nathang there is a small British cemetery at the end of the valley .This is the highest point of Nathang valley. You will find some old grave here.
Dafter Bungalow: In early days when the silk rout was open, Dafter Bungalow was used for custom duty collections but later this bungalow was renovated by the depertment of Tourism,Sikkim Govt. The original bungalow was built in 1920. There are three rooms and two of them are attached with bath and fireplace. No electricity is available here so generator is only source of power supply.
Sunset Point : Just opposite to Dafter Bungalow there is an old building, come just front of the building this is the ideal place for watching sunset from Nathang valley. One will find the hiding gradually under thick cloud.
Nathang sight seeing :
Zuluk Loop: Zuluk is famous for its incomparable loops. There are approx. 30 loops in this zig-zag path.
Ganek : Ganek is the sunrise point in Zuluk.Start early in morning(4:00 am) to reach Ganek and catch glimpse sunrise over Mt. Kanchenjungha.
Nag Temple: This cave like structured temple is dedicated to Nag Devata(Snake God). It is locally believed that this temple is formed naturally through a crack in a giant sized rock.
Thambi View Point: At an altitude of 10,500 ft this view point is ideal place to watch panoramic view of zig-zag Zuluk loop with Zuluk village. Kanchenjungha is also much prominent from here.
Lungthung : Lungthung or Dhupidhara is at an altitude of 12,500 ft from sea level. You will also find some home stays here. This is a popular spot for spotting Monal(National bird of Nepal).
Tukla Valley : This is a war memorial built to commemorate the death of British soldiers, who died at the battle of Tukla.
Old Baba Mandir : This temple is build in the honour of Sepoy Harbhajan Singh. This temple is well maintained by Indian Army (cloud warrior regiment ). On the top of this temple you will find Harbhajan Singh’s bunker.
Kupup Lake: Kupup lake is locally known as Hati lake for its Elephant like shape. This lake is surrounded by high hills.Beside Kupup lake you will find an Ice Hockey field and a golf coursr at an altitude of 13020ft.
Kupup Valley : Kupup is a small valley situated at an altitude of 13900 ft. From Kupup Lhasa(Tibet) is only 520 km. You will even find a signboard mentioning distance with direction here from Lhasa.
Jelep La : In Tibetan language ‘Jelep La’ means lovely level pass. this is a mountain pass between India-China. This pass is situated at an altitude of 14300 ft. This is the last point of old silk rout from Indian side. In Tibet side this pass lead to Chumbi valley(in Tibet). This passs is closed after 1962 Sino-Indian war.
Menmecho Lake : Menmecho Lake is situated at an altitude of 12500 ft. This lake is located 20 km from Chhangu Lake.This is a stunning beautiful lake surrounded by rich forest. This lake is famous for its Trout fish.
Tsomgo Lake : Popularly known as Chhangu Lake. This lake is 1km long, 50 ft deep and oval in shape. This lake was created by the melted glacier.
Nathula Pass : Nathula is the gateway between India and China.This pass is open for Indian nationals only on Wednessday, Thrusday, Saturday and Sunday.
Best Time to visit:
Nathang is accessible through out the year but keep in mind winter in Nathang is severe. During winter Nathang faces high snow fall and freezing temperature.Due to snow fall some times the road remain closed for few days. In summer the picture is completely opposite.Summer is wet and foggy here. During summer Nathang and its surrounding hills remain covered with different kind of grassy blooming rhododendron flowers.
How to Reach :
To reach Nathang one have to take a car from New Jalpaiguri(NJP). Podemchen is the entry point of Silk rout. For Silk rout one has to collect pass from DFO,Podemchen and this pass is available from morning to 4 pm in a day.For Nathang one should stay one night at Zuluk then in next day start for Nathang.
What to eat :
Basic food is available here. You should try Momo and Sikkimese Local recipe here. All the foods are served hot and home cooked. Chicken and egg is available here. Masala tea is also a good option.
Distance Chart from Nathang(approx):
Siliguri- 165 km.
Last few years winter condition :
2010- Nathang was inaccessible by car from December end to April.
2011-Nathang was accessible by car till mid January
2012-Nathang was accessible by car till first week of January.
2013-Nathang was accessible by car till early December
2014-Nathang was accessible by car till first week of January.
2015-Nathang was accessible by car till second week of January.
2016-Nathang was accessible by car till third week of December.
2017-Road towards Nathang was blocked on 2nd week of December geopend again 3rd week again blocked from 1st week of January.
2018-Nathang was accessible by car till second week of January.
24/01/2019 – The road towards Nathang is blocked now.
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Camera i used for this trip:
And Action cam that I used
Want to read another part of Silk Route, i.e about Zuluk then click here.
Know more about silk route from wikipedia