Nathu La (Devanagari नाथू ला; Tibetan: རྣ་ཐོས་ལ་, IAST: Nāthū Lā, Chinese: 乃堆拉山口; pinyin: Nǎiduīlā Shānkǒu) is a mountain pass in the Himalayas. It connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The pass, at 4,310 m (14,140 ft) above mean sea level, forms a part of an offshoot of the ancient Silk Road. Nathu means "listening ears" and La means "pass" in Tibetan. On the Indian side, the pass is 54 km (34 mi) east of Gangtok, the capital of Indian state of Sikkim. Only citizens of India can visit the pass, and then only after obtaining a permit in Gangtok. Nathu La is one of the two open trading border posts between China and India; the others being Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh (or Lipulech) in Nepal. Sealed by India after the 1962 Sino-Indian War, Nathu La was re-opened in 2006 following numerous bilateral trade agreements. The opening of the pass was expected to bolster the economy of the region and play a key role in the growing Sino-Indian trade. However, the outcome has not been satisfactory. Currently, agreements between the two nations limit trade across the pass to 29 types of goods from India and 15 from the Chinese side. The opening, however, shortens the travel distance to important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region.
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