Sikkim Diary : Nathu La

Back in 2007, the road to Nathu La had got blocked due to snowfall and my desire to visit the Indo-China border remained unfulfilled. This time I was there early, it was the month of November and snowfall had not started yet. How could have one afforded to miss a second chance ?

Nathu La remains closed for public sightseeing, on Mondays and Tuesdays. So if you are planning a visit, make sure you don’t end up in Gangtok for the first two days of the week. The border being at 14000 feet above sea level, people having breathing troubles at higher altitudes are advised not to visit the border. Passing through two or three check posts of the Indian army, it took us around two hours to reach our destination from Gangtok. It was freezing cold, the chilly air made everyone quiver. With numerous army camps, barracks and bunkers on both the sides, the journey was nothing but enthralling. Sriman, our driver played all kinds of patriotic songs on his music player and that just added to the mood.

On reaching Nathu La, the army officers guided us to the top and showed us around, a wired fencing marked the border, with a huge gate in between. The huge gate is actually the pass, which was originally a part of the Old Silk Route. Each and every word by the soldiers were words of wisdom and every single moment shared with them were moments of pride. The excitement of being there made shivers run down my spine. The excitement was natural. Is it everyday you get to visit the border ? Definitely, not.

The border there has been quite peaceful since 1962 and you will surely adore the camaraderie the soldiers of both the nations share. The Chinese soldiers even shook hands with us which told us loads about the current relation between the two countries.

“When is the next war uncle ?”, asked a kid.

“When the government decides my son. Hope it’s never.”, replied an officer.

The soldiers answered to all the innumerable questions without hesitation. They were all smiles in-spite of all the silly enquiries. It was heart warming to see how they sacrifice their lives, away from the city, far away from their families, in a place with no telephone network or internet connectivity, protecting us from all odds. That too without a twitch. It was an incredible experience to witness a soldier’s life from such close quarters.

Does travelling make us humbler ? Yes, surely experiences like these do. I would like to end this post with something the soldiers said. “When you go home, tell them of us and say, that for your tomorrow, we gave our today.”


Akash Chaudhuri
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