This is our third trip to Gangtok. This time we have come to Gangtok after 2 days’ visit at Darjeeling. Since we have already visited major places in Gangtok in last two trips, we planned to visit Nathula pass and Changu Lake. We went Changu for the first time in 1999. So this was a second time journey to rekindle our experience after 15 years.
We are at new Bada Dham – Nathula pass
I have shared only Nathula and Changu lake trip experience in this blog post. In Gangtok , you can plan for three major trip : 1) Gangtok sightseeing ( 1day trip ), 2) yumthang trip ( 1N/2D day trip) , 3) Nathula and Changu lake trip (1 day trip) . 4) Gurudongmar Lake trip (2N/3D day trip). In this blog post, I have shared trip experience and some important facts about successful Nathula tour in Gangtok.
Awesome view of hilly terrain on the way to Nathula
We checked in Hotel Central Point just opposite of Rumtek bus stand near Lal Market. From our room we can directly view Kanchenjunga view. After cheked in hotel, we looked out for best car deal from local 2-3 travel agents.
We are 4 people in our family; still we booked private car sumo at Rs 2800 price as no small car is allowed to go to Nathula. A team from Delhi booked same type of car at Rs. 6000. So it’s a broker raj and always check price before booking cab.
Our journey to Tsomgo Lake/ Changu Lake:
It was 7:30 A.M., and our driver Lampa arrived with car and informed us that road condition was good up to nathula. We started from Gangtok town at 7:45 AM. After 25 min journey, we reached check point for checking our pass for Nathula.
Check point before entering Nathula Pass road
Weather was good, so we enjoyed our journey along hilly terrain. On the way we spotted many small falls. But worth to spend some time at Rukmini falls. We spent some time there. Driver advised us to visit Nathula pass first and then visit changu while on returned journey.
We are approach towards Nathula Pass
We drove another 20 km to reach Changu lake, but we didn’t stop there as our first destination was Nathula . Leaving behind Changu lake to drove up towards Nathula . We were spell bound to see the beauty of hill and serenity of nature. Many small lakes welcoming us at the Holly hill top .on the way, we found newly built campus for Kailash Manasarovar yatra from Nathula. Driver informed that Chinese vehicle come upto this place.
Rukmini falls on the way to Nathula
Camp for Kailash Manasarovar yatra at Nathula
After a 2 km drive, we have reached a junction. From here, the left path take you to Nathula border and it’s a commercial route so needs separate permission. But we had tourist pass, so we took right path towards Baba Dham. “Baba” Harbhajan Singh Dham was 2 km from this post. On the way, we have seen ” Mera Bharat Mahan” engraved on a hillside. It was a awesome views. Finally we reached Baba Dham .
Baba dham – “Baba” Harbhajan Singh Dham
We are at New Baba Dham
Earlier I thought that this is the place famous for Baba I mean Bhole baba ( LORD shiva ). But this place is named after “Baba” Harbhajan Singh. He joined as a sepoy in Indian army in 1946. While on duty in east sikim week region, he was killed in 1968. Later he appeared in a colleagues’ dream and requested them to build shrine in his name. Sepoy Harbhajan Singh is revered by soldiers of the Indian army as the “Hero of Nathula” and later on the Indian army had also built a shrine in his honor. As per local legend, spirit of “Baba” Harbhajan Singh is still guarding Indian armies at such high altitude region.
Shiva Temple on hill top – 1 km trek from Bada mandir
The original Baba Mandir was built at Tuku La Donchi La in 1983. Later for tourist convenience, new Harbhajan singh shire built at 10 km downhill. Most of regular Natula trip ends in new Baba temple.
When we reached this new Baba temple it was 1030 am .This is a awesome place and our tiredness got vanished with healing tough of Baba and beautiful nature around .we could see the vast valleys around looking us from the top . Clouds are coming up from down hills.
Siva temple at Nathula
Distant view of Shiva Temple from Baba Mandir
Nammangcho water fall
Recently, Indian army has built at 12 ft long Shiva temple on a foot hill of Nammangcho hill . The Shiva temple is put at the height of 13000 ft from sea level . It’s is regarded as the highest located Shiva idol in the world. From new Baba shrine, we did trekking of 200 meters to reach the shiva Temple. On way we stopped at the foot hill of Nammangcho water fall. This place was inaugurated in 10 October, 2014. From statue podium, we could see the scenic beauty of Narhula valley , Baba shrine and beautiful Nammangcho hill and waterfall. We spent there for 1:30 hrs and then started for old Baba Mandir.
Nammangcho water fall
Old Baba mandir :
it’s located 10 km up from new shrine . This place was not included in our regular package. But I must tell you should not miss this place. We started for old Mandir at 1230 pm. On the way, we saw beautiful golf course, Elephants Lake and beautiful valley covered with orchid flowers. Along this journey we have found that the whole path is full of 4-5 types of orchid flowers, and beauty of Elephant Lake was beyond explanation. After 30 min ride we reached old Baba mandir . We offered our puja there and visited bankar and items used by Baba Harbhajan.
Elephant Lake on the way to Old Bab Mandir
We stopped at check post on the way to old Baba Maindir- most of the time this palce covered with ice.
At old Baba Mandir- Nathula
Top view from Baba ji ki Bankar
Awesome view of Hills, cloulds and orchid ganden near old Baba Maindir
Awesome view of Changu Lake
While come back from old Baba temple, we stopped at Changu lake as per our plan. It was 2 pm by that time . In Changu market , we finished our lunch and went out for sightseeing around Changu lake . We took 2 yak for ride. Local people charged premium for this. We negotiate 250 for each yak ride. For still photography they charge Rs 50 per person . My wife and I walk on foot and my daughters on yak ride. It was 20 min ride walking along the lake. In an hour, black cloud covered the lake and thunderstorms started declaring their presence. So cut short the ride and ran across the lake. Rain already caught us on the way . Now whole valley and lake became raining paradise .It was really intimidating and enchanting. Driver spotted us while we were running and finally our car picked us. It was 4 pm and it was our time for return journey to Gangtok.
We are at Changu lake
We then climbed down towards Gangtok leaving behind Changu Lake. Now this 1 hour journey was thrilled with driving experience in a heavy rain in hilly area. Finally we crossed check post before 5 pm and reached Gangtok with loads of sweet memories of day long tour in Changu and Nathula .
Yak riding at Changu lake
Some important facts for my fellow travelers:
1. Car rental for Nathula and Changu trip
- Innova and xylo , Rs. 3000 – 3500
- Suma and max, Rs. 2500 to 3000
- Shared service, 350- 400 per head
From trip Darjeeling to Gangtok: We took a Mahindra Xylo: Booking charged Rs. 2500/-
2. Distance and road condition upto Nathula
Road condition is good all the way upto narhula as the road is maintained by BRO. Distance from Gangtok to Nathula is about 55 km and only 6-10 km road condition is bad . But overall road condition is good.
3. Any sickness due to high altitude
Tsomgo lake is 12000 ft and Nathula is 13000 ft above sea level . So there is not much problem there due to high altitude.
4. Journey to old Baba temple: it’s 10 km from the new shrine and worth to visit . This is not included in our package. Driver charges Rs. 1200 per car for this trip. It’s same like zero point trip from yamthung.
4. Hotel price in Gangtok: I have already shared in my last blog. It varies depending on season. We stayed at central point lodge . Deluxe room they charged us Rs 2000 per night for 3 beds. In Lal market area, they charge between Rs. 1000 to 2000 depending on season and hotel locations.
5. Where to go for booking cab: You can book from hotel or from nearby travel agents. But check prices from 2-3 places.
Rumtek bus stand: It’s located near police commissioner office in Lal market. You can directly book car for sightseeing in Gangtok or for Yumthang or Changu.
Siliguri bas stand near Deorali market: you can book shared or private car fot siliguri or other places.
6. Local taxi fare: if you stay in Deorali market, you can visit MG Marg or Lal market availing local taxi, they charge Rs. 20 per son per ride.
Hope you find this helpful. Please let me know your view.