Nathang Valley in simple words can be described as one of the best places to stay at or visit in Sikkim. Nathang Valley is located along Silk Route in East Sikkim. It is a remote hamlet located at a very high altitude around 13,000 ft above sea level with extreme temperature in winters and moderate temperature in summers but that too quite cold because of the height. Nathang Valley can be visited directly from NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri via Rongpo and Rongli from the east and it is can also be visited from Gangtok’s side. Nathang Valley is the extreme point in east Sikkim other than Nathula Pass. The scenic beauty all around is amazing with snow capped mountains and valleys. If you are planning a trip plan to east Sikkim, Nathang must a place to visit.
Visit Nathang Valley from NJP/Siliguri/Bagdogra
There are two routes from NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri’s towards Nathang as follows:
Route 1: NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri >> Rongpo >> Rongli >> Lingtam >> Padamchen >> Zuluk >> Lungthung >> Gnathang Valley >> Kupup >> Gangtok
Route 2: NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri >> Kalimpong >> Ramdura >> Ichey Gaon >> Sillery Gaon >> Pedong >> Reshikhola >> Aritar >> Rongli Bazar >> Lingtam >> Padamchen >> Zuluk >> Lungthung >> Gnathang Valley >> Gangtok
All the places mentioned above are small hamlets which have gained popularity with tourists coming in to this part of Sikkim. Places like Ramdura, Iche Gaon, Sillery Gaon and Reshikhola are located within West Bengal territory and share the border with Sikkim. These places of Bengal on way to east Sikkim or Silk Route have developed popularity because of its own superb scenic view. (Read my Honeymoon trip to Reshikhola). People visiting east Sikkim or coming from east Sikkim towards NJP/Siliguri/Bagdogra must stay or halt for one or couple of nights at Iche Gaon or Sillery Gaon. In these three places on way to Silk Route and entire east Sikkim local people have been developing home stays to facilitate lodging for tourists and provide basic necessities. There are no hotels at these places in east Sikkim except Lingtam. There are two properties at Lingtam and at all other places people are supposed to stay in home stays only maintained by local people.
There are two ways one can visit Nathang Valley. You can visit Nathang and come back towards NJP/Siliguri else you can transfer to Gangtok via Silk Route. It is not actually required to stay at all places mentioned above. Travel agents try to convince tourists to stay at the place/s where they have tied up with local home stays. I feel there is actually no need to stay at all places. One can cover the entire Silk Route in east Sikkim only by staying at 3-4 places.
If you are looking to cover the Silk Route in short time without visiting Gangtok, I would suggest the following route:
NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri >> Sillery gaon >> Nathang Valley >> Padamchen OR Aritar OR Zuluk >> NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri
If you have got more time in hand and want to spend more days along Silk Route, the trip route can be:
NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri >> Sillery Gaon >> Nathang Valley >> Padamchen OR Zuluk >> Lingtam OR Aritar >> Sillery Gaon >> NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri
If one is interested to transfer to Gangtok from this side of Sikkim, he can make the following itineraries:
Silk Route Itinerary 1:
NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri >> Sillery Gaon >> Padamchen OR Lingtam OR Zuluk (via Aritar) >> Nathang Valley >> Gangtok
Silk Route Itinerary 2:
NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri >> Sillery Gaon >> Aritar >> Padamchen OR Lingtam >> Zuluk >> Gnathang Valley >> Gangtok
There can be several more customized itineraries. Do mail me or fill up the contact form on Contact Us page on my blog. I would gladly help you with all details and customized itinerary.
Best Time to visit Nathang Valley
October is a very good time to visit Nathang when the sky remains clear and the weather remains moderate and favorable. If you enjoy chilling weather, you can visit between November and January when the place gets snowfall and the view all around remains nothing but white which have its own charm. Beyond January, the Silk Route remains closed because of heavy snowfall and re-opens around April. The time of getting the road closed and open depends on nature and no one can predict that. So I am just sharing the general thing and it may change.
I have seen most of tourist avoid and skip a mountain tour during rainy season but I feel when it rains on hills, it has its own charm and beauty. I really enjoy the rain on hills. I have visited Nathang during rainy season and I never faced any major land slide or something like that for which we had to wait much long. I guess I was lucky enough because landslides are frequent during rainy season and roads get blocked any time but the BRO and Army takes short time to clear the road. In my last trip to East Sikkim during rainy season we faced two or three small landslides and we had to wait but it was not an headache because we were all friends in a group. I feel if you are carrying your family, it is better if you skip rainy season but if you are a group of friends and young lads, you can surely give a try for the adventure.
Another very good time to visit east Sikkim is April-May when Rhododendrons blossom across the entire region. Nathang Valley remains so colorful and one can see a huge variety of flowers. I highly recommend visiting Nathang during April-May to all nature lovers.
Nathang Valley’s altitude is an issue
As the place is located around 13,000 ft high above sea level, it can be a discomfort for the guys suffer from high altitude sickness. Senior citizens and children may suffer from high altitude sickness. If someone suffers from breathing problem must avoid staying at Nathang and stay at some low altitude places like Lingtam, Padamchen, Zuluk, etc. If staying at Nathang can create an issue it is better you visit the place and stay at anywhere else.
Eagle’s Nest Bunker – The Sunrise and Sunset point of Nathang
If you are staying at Nathang, do not miss the fun of visiting this point known as Eagle’s Nest Point. This point used to be a bunker of the Indian Army to keep an eye on the border activities. It is now an abandoned bunker and tourists enjoy visiting the places. The sunrise or sunset view from this point is so amazing and one can cherish all through life.
BhulBhulaiya – Zig-Zag road of Nathang Valley
The entire stretch from Padamchen to Nathang Valley is superb with amazing scenic view all around but the point of Thambi View Point provides a fantastic view of more than 50 sharp bends of roads from that single point. In winter the roads remain like cold desert, all covered with white and in other times it is not covered with snow but the view is so beautiful. You must spend time at this point and get some snaps.
Permission to visit Nathang and the entire Silk Route
If you are traveling from NJP/Bagdogra’s side, you need to get permit from Rongli check post and if you are traveling from Gangtok’s side, your permit can be issued from tourism office in Gangtok. Tourists are not allowed to visit the stretch without permit because it is a protected area as it shares the border with Tibet occupied by China. Only Indians can visit this stretch and foreigners do not have the luck of visiting the region because it is strictly prohibited.
Making a bike ride along the stretch
If you are planning to enjoy bike riding along the Silk Route in east Sikkim, make sure you take your own bike because permission is not provided for rented bikes or if the owner of the bike is not present. Getting a permit for Silk Route if you are carrying your bike is quite tough. If you try to make it on your own, you must be ready to lose the sole of your shoes. Better is if you ask any local agent to arrange that for you because they make arrangements to clear the permits. If you are a biker, I am sure this journey can be a memorable one. People talk about journeys by bike in Leh-Manali highway but this is beautiful and adventurous too.
Covering Nathula Pass while visiting Nathang Valley from Gangtok’s side
One can surely cover Nathula Pass – the highest point in east Sikkim and the border point between India and China while visiting from Gangtok’s side. Permission for Nathula Is occupied from tourism office in Gangtok and so tourists traveling from NJP/Bagdogra/Siliguri’s side to Gangtok via Ailk Route would not have the scope to visit Nathula Pass. If somehow one can manage to get the permit done from Gangtok and if that permit can be brought in, then it is possible to visit Nathula from this side of east Sikkim. Nathula Pass remains closed on Monday and Tuesday and so plan accordingly if you intent to visit Nathula.
Nathang Valley Home Stay Accommodation
There are no hotels or resorts in Nathang valley and one can not expect luxury at that altitude. Nathang is a remote hamlet as I have already said. There are only home stays developed and maintained by local people. Accommodation facility in Nathang Valley or any other place across east Sikkim is very limited, so I would suggest booking your accommodation in advance to confirm your lodging. Though there is no luxury bit still people there try their best to satisfy the guest in every possible way. You can’t get a geyser but you can surely expect hot water provided at all home stays at your demand. There is not much variety of food but they provide simple food with great care. People of Sikkim, especially who live at remote hamlets are so simple and friendly. They are so polite and humble. They will always be at your service. It is a shame for us that some tourists who belong to much more developed section of society behave so rudely with them. I have seen people with high temper because they are not getting all like what they get at hotels and resorts. It must be clear to all travelers or tourists that place like east Sikkim is so remotely located at such a height where daily life is a struggle; we must not expect what we get in our city life.
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