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Nathu La Pass, Sikkim

The pass is situated at an elevation of 4,310 meters above sea level, and is an offshoot of the Old Silk Route. The flow of tourists is regulated by the government of India as the soil here is shallow and prone to landslides, nevertheless, this is a must visit site as the location is a Hiker’s haven, as it offers picturesque views of the valley. The old silk route connects the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to the plains of Bengal to the south.

nathu-la-pass
Photo by sudeep1106, CC BY 2.0 

Because of the steep elevation increase around the pass, the vegetation graduates from the sub-tropical forest at its base, to a temperate region, to a wet and dry alpine climate, and finally to cold tundra desert devoid of vegetation. Around Nathu La and the Tibetan side, the region has little vegetation besides scattered shrubs. The region has a four-month growing season during which grasses, sedges and medicinal herbs grow abundantly and support a host of insects, wild and domestic herbivores, larks, and finches.

The place has no permanent human settlements but has a large number of defense personnel because of the international borders on both sides. The plains are abundant with grass and thus are grazing grounds for many domestic herbivore species like yak, sheep and pashmina type goats.

The region also contains many endangered wild animals such as the snow leopard, Tibetan gazelle, Tibetan wolf, Tibetan snowcock, lammergeier, raven, golden eagle, and ruddy shelduck. Feral dogs are considered a major hazard in this region. The place also boasts of the world’s highest ATM operated by Axis bank and is located at a height of 4,023 meters above sea level.

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