Days after the peaceful resolution of the Doklam stand-off with India, China on Tuesday said that it is ready for talks to re-open the Nathu La pass for Indian pilgrims. China had closed the Nathu La pass in mid June over the military stand-off on Doklam. "China is ready to keep communication with Indian side in regard to opening of the pass and other issues concerning the pilgrimage by Indians," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in Beijing on Tuesday.
Nathula located at the Indo China border at an altitude of 14,100 feet asl is a favorite hotspot place of visit for visitors coming to Sikkim. It is 56 km East of Gangtok and connects the Indian state of Sikkim to Tibet Autonomous Region in China. Nathu means "listening ears" and La means "pass" in Tibetan.
It is one of the highest motorable roads and is covered with rich alpine flora and fauna. Special permits are required to visit this site and excursions are organized by registered tour operators only. The Nathula Pass was re-opened for border trade after a gap of 44 years in 2006.
The road to this pass is breathtaking and the landscape is dotted with army settlements. This pass has historical importance and in 1904, Major Francis Younghusband, serving as the British Commissioner to Tibet, led a successful mission through Nathu La to capture Lhasa.
It is guarded on both sides by the Chinese and Indian soldiers. At present domestic tourists are given permit to visit Nathula 4 days a week (Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday) and the number of vehicles are restricted to visit Nathula each day. Visitors need special permits to visit this high altitude pass, according to a Sikkim government website http://www.sikkimstdc.com.
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra pilgrims plan their journey via Nathu La pass, the other passes being Lipuleku Pass and non-official yatra through Lhasa and Purang. During the Doklam standoff, China blocked the Nathula La pass to Indian pilgrims. During the 1962 Sino-Indian War,
Nathu La witnessed skirmishes between soldiers of the two countries. Shortly thereafter, the passage was sealed and remained closed for more than four decades. Finally, after a decade of talks, Nathu La was opened on 6 July 2006. The date of the reopening, which also formally recognised Tibet as part of China by India and Sikkim's accession to India, writes Wikipedia.