Tourists not allowed beyond 15th Mile due to heavy snowfall at Nathu-La

Tourists not allowed beyond 15th Mile due to heavy snowfall at Nathu-La
Photo Source: Sikkim STDC

Gangtok, December 7: Heavy snowfall covered Tsomgo (Changu lake) and Nathu-La, the higher parts of East Sikkim on Friday. The region has been experiencing a heavy amount of snowfall for the past 48 hours. The state tourism authorities have stated that it will limit the travel up to 15th Mile, only a few kilometres short of the main destination.

The state tourism industry observed an increase in the amount of snowfall on Saturday compared to the amount of snowfall on Friday. This put the traffic in the area to a halt. This was the second snowfall of the year in the region the first was in the second week of November. The snowfall was moderate and happened only in the upper areas of the region. 

North Sikkim is a very popular destination among Hodophiles and travel enthusiasts. Popular tourist destinations, Lachung and Lachen situated in North Sikkim also experienced heavy snowfall in the past 48 hours. Nathu-La was closed for nine months but the pass re-opened on Friday after the lockdown caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The destination is 17 kilometres away from Tsomgo lake whereas Tsomgo lake is 35 kilometres away from Gangtok. 

Tsomgo has seen over 20,000 tourists since it was reopened on October 11 but not a single person has been allowed to set foot in the China border pass this season. The authorities in the weather office have predicted more snowfall in the next 48 hours due to a strong weather system prevalent in the region.

Kapil Meena, the DIrector-cum-Additional Secretary of Sikkim’s Tourism and Civil Aviation Department, told The Telegraph that because of the heavy snowfall, tourists were not allowed to proceed beyond 15 Mile on Sunday. “From tomorrow (Monday), permits will be issued only when there are least chances of tourists getting stuck on the route (because of snowfall),” he said.

“The passage of western disturbances over this region has caused light to moderate rainfall over most parts of Sikkim and snowfall in the higher reaches. This is likely to continue for another two days,” Gopinath Raha, added the Gangtok head of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

As beautiful as the sight of snowfall can be, too much of it can daunting and disastrous for tourists visiting places located in high altitude. Extra precautions are being taken by the authorities in-charge for the tourists to enjoy a safe holiday.