Nathu La is a mountain pass which connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. The pass is at 4,310 m (14,140 ft) above mean sea level. Nathu means “listening ears” and La means “pass” in Tibetan. The pass is 54 kms east of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Only citizens of India can visit the pass, and that only after obtaining a permit in Gangtok which is to be obtained in rotation basis through travel agencies registered with the Government of Sikkim.
The vegetation graduates from 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 Area will be covered with snow from October end to April-May.