There are three check points between Gangtok and Nathu La, but my personal favourite is Kyongnosla. Situated at close to 10,000 feet, this place has its own design of nature.
The check post that marks this area falls under the purview of the Kyongnosla Alpine sanctuary. When one goes to visit Nathu La, the time consuming check posts can sometimes get really painful and Kyongnosla comes as a breath of fresh air in such a situation.
Kyongnosla, in that way offers the services of a lively market to the tourist who can disembark and relax while the car drivers do the job of sorting out the permit process. This break also serves as a first level of acclimatization.
The market as such is very vibrant and colourful. It is here that one can buy themselves various woollen and thermal gear to beat the cold winds of Nathu La or treat themselves to some hot pakodas, momos and tea/coffee.
If you are not the shopping type like me, then you can climb to the neighbouring hill from where you can get great views of the entire Kyongnosla valley. This is exactly what I did when I was there a couple of weeks back. And this is what I typically do when the group takes a break at Kyongnosla.
I was feeling very stiff and decided to stretch out my limbs by climbing up to the peak. It was here that I got treated to some fabulous views of the fall colours in the valley and aerial views of the Kyongnosla market, the army bunkers and the small village houses below.
The meandering mountain river in the background adds charm to the overall beauty. To me, it feels like one can spend an eternity watching these pristine surroundings, but when the chilly winds wake me up from my dreams, I run down and join the rest of my travel friends for a cup of steaming tea and some hot momos.