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Donkia Pass In Sikkim

Donkia Pass in Sikkim (Dongkha La Pass)

Donkia Pass, also known as Dongkha La Pass, is a high mountain pass located in the Indian state of Sikkim, in the Himalayan mountain range. At an altitude of 18,045 feet (5,500 meters), it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers. The pass is part of a challenging yet rewarding trek that attracts adventure buffs from all over the world. 

The trek to Donkia Pass takes you through diverse terrains, including green forests, alpine meadows, and rocky mountain paths, culminating in panoramic views that are truly unforgettable. Trekking to Donkia provides an unparalleled experience for those seeking adventure and natural beauty. 

Unlike more popular trekking routes, the trails to Donkia Pass see fewer visitors, ensuring a peaceful and immersive journey. The high altitude and difficult terrain pose significant challenges, but the rewards are equally great. Each step brings you deeper into one of the world’s most untouched environments, making it a perfect destination for those looking to push their limits and reconnect with nature.

Significance of Donkia Pass

Donkia serves as a historical route for traders and shepherds navigating between Sikkim and Tibet. The pass provides access to some of the most remote and untouched areas of the Himalayas. It is also of great cultural significance to the local people. 

Donkia La Pass, Sikkim
Donkia La Pass, Sikkim

Buddhists consider the mountains around the pass to be sacred, and prayer flags and cairns can be seen along the trail and at the pass, placed by locals and trekkers for blessings and safe passage. The spiritual atmosphere, combined with the natural beauty of the pass, creates a unique and deeply moving experience for all who visit.

In addition to its cultural importance, Donkia Pass plays a vital role in the local ecosystem. The high-altitude environment supports a variety of flora and fauna, some of which are unique to this region. Trekkers often spot rare birds and alpine plants along the way. 

The pass’s remote location helps preserve its natural beauty and biodiversity, making it a critical area for conservation efforts. Respecting this fragile environment is essential for maintaining its untouched condition for future generations.

Donkia Pass Border Country

Donkia is located on the border between India and Tibet (China). The pass is about 30 km from the border as the crow flies. On clear days, you can see the peaks of the Tibetan Plateau from the pass. This strategic location offers a unique vantage point, providing trekkers with a rare glimpse into the vast and remote landscape of Tibet. 

The beautiful views from the Pass are a highlight for many trekkers, offering a sense of accomplishment and a deeper appreciation of the region’s geographical significance. The border region around Donkia Pass has a rich history of cultural exchange and trade. For centuries, this route has facilitated the movement of goods and ideas between Sikkim and Tibet. 

Today, while the pass is more commonly used by trekkers than traders, it still symbolizes the connection between these two regions. The journey to Donkia Pass is not only a physical challenge but also a journey through history, offering insights into the enduring ties between neighboring cultures.

Donkia Pass War History

While Donkia Pass itself has not played a direct role in any wars, the region has a history of border disputes and military tensions. During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, nearby mountain passes were significant flashpoints. The strategic location of Sikkim, sandwiched between India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet, highlights the importance of these high-altitude routes. 

Donkia Pass, like many others in the region, underscores the strategic and geopolitical importance of Sikkim’s mountain passes. Understanding this context adds depth to the experience of trekking in this historically rich area. The military presence in the region ensures that trekkers need proper permits and must adhere to certain guidelines. 

Despite the historical tensions, the area remains peaceful and welcoming to visitors. The Indian Army’s presence helps maintain the security of the region, allowing trekkers to explore the natural beauty and historical significance of Donkia Pass without concerns. This balance between security and accessibility makes the trek to Donkia Pass a unique and enlightening experience.

How to Reach Donkia Pass

The trek to Donkia Pass starts from the town of Lachen in North Sikkim. Lachen is around 120 km from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. To reach Lachen, you can take a flight or train to Bagdogra airport or New Jalpaiguri railway station, respectively. From there, you can take a shared taxi or private vehicle to Lachen, which takes around 6-7 hours.

Road To Gangtok, Sikkim

Once in Lachen, the trek to Donkia Pass takes about 4-5 days, depending on your pace and acclimatization. The journey through picturesque landscapes and traditional Sikkimese villages adds to the charm of this adventure. The trek itself is demanding, requiring a good level of physical fitness and preparation. 

The route passes through a variety of terrains, from dense forests to high-altitude meadows and rocky paths. Trekkers should be prepared for sudden weather changes and challenging conditions. Proper gear and a positive mindset are essential for a successful and enjoyable trek to Donkia Pass. The effort, however, is well worth it for the beautiful views and sense of accomplishment upon reaching the pass.

Best Time to Visit Donkia Pass

The best time to visit Donkia Pass is in the summer (May to June) and autumn (September to October) seasons. During these months, the weather is generally clear and stable, making for good trekking conditions. 

In summer, the high-altitude meadows are lush and green, while in autumn, the skies are crisp and you get the clearest views of the mountain ranges. Avoid the monsoon months of July to August, as the trails become slippery and there are high chances of landslides. Winters are extremely cold with heavy snowfall, making the trek challenging and potentially dangerous.

Planning your trek during the optimal seasons ensures a safer and more enjoyable experience. The clear weather in summer and autumn allows for beautiful photographic opportunities and better visibility of the surrounding peaks. 

Additionally, these seasons are ideal for observing the unique flora and fauna of the region. Trekking in these conditions maximizes your chances of reaching the pass and enjoying its breathtaking views.

Donkia Pass Height

Donkia Pass is located at an altitude of 18,045 feet (5,500 meters) above sea level. This makes it a very high-altitude trek that requires proper acclimatization. The trek starts from Lachen at 8,838 feet and gradually climbs up to the pass over a period of 4-5 days. This gives your body time to adapt to the reducing oxygen levels. 

However, it is still a challenging climb and altitude sickness is a risk that needs to be taken seriously. Trekkers should be aware of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe journey.

Donkia Pass height in feet is 18,045 feet.

Donkia Pass height in meters is 5,500 meters.

My Experience of Donkia Pass

I did the Dongkha La Pass trek a few years ago and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The beautiful views, the challenging terrain, and the sense of accomplishment on reaching the pass made it truly special. 

Starting from Lachen, the trail initially passed through lush forests with the sound of mountain streams keeping us company. Crossing high-altitude meadows and rocky terrain was both thrilling and exhausting. The sight of the Tibetan Plateau in the distance kept us motivated. Reaching Donkia Pass and getting a panoramic view of the surrounding peaks and glaciers literally took my breath away!

Each day of the trek brought new adventures and challenges. We encountered diverse wildlife, including rare birds and alpine flowers that added color to the difficult landscape. The camaraderie among fellow trekkers and the guidance of our experienced trek leader made the journey even more enjoyable. 

The final ascent to Donkia Pass was tough but immensely rewarding. Standing at the pass, surrounded by the grandeur of the Himalayas, was a moment of pure joy and fulfillment that I will never forget.

Things to Keep in Mind While Visiting Donkia Pass

Donkia Pass is a high-altitude trek that requires physical fitness and acclimatization. Train well in advance and be prepared for the challenges. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a risk at these altitudes. Ascend gradually, stay hydrated, and alert your trek leader immediately if you experience any symptoms. Weather can change rapidly in the mountains. 

Be prepared with proper clothing in layers, good quality trekking shoes, and protection against rain/snow. Respect the environment and local culture. Do not litter the trail, avoid making noise, and be mindful of local customs and beliefs. Permits are required for trekking in North Sikkim. Make sure you arrange them through a registered trekking agency well in advance.

It is essential to carry enough food and water for the trek, as resources are limited along the route. Trekking poles, a first aid kit, and navigation tools like maps or GPS devices are also crucial for safety. Travel insurance that covers high-altitude trekking is recommended. Being well-prepared not only ensures your safety but also enhances the overall experience. Respecting local customs and maintaining the untouched condition of the trail contributes to sustainable trekking practices.

History of Donkia Pass

Donkia Pass has been used by local shepherds and traders for centuries to cross the Himalayan ranges. However, its popularity as a trekking destination is more recent. The first recorded trekking expedition to Donkia Pass was in the early 20th century by European explorers mapping the region. 

In the early 1900s, other explorers and mountaineers followed, using Donkia Pass as a base for their adventures. As trekking gained popularity in India in the late 1900s, Donkia Pass became a sought-after trek for its beautiful views and challenging terrain. Today, hundreds of trekkers attempt this challenging route every year in the summer and autumn seasons when the weather is favorable.


Donkia Pass is a true gem in the trekking crown of India. With its beautiful views of the high Himalayas, challenging terrain, and untouched natural beauty, it offers an unforgettable experience for trekkers. If you are up for an adventure and want to witness the grandeur of the remote Himalayas up close, then Donkia Pass is the trek for you. 

Just make sure you are physically prepared, respect the mountains, and soak in the incredible journey. The memories will last you a lifetime! The sense of achievement on reaching the pass, combined with the awe-inspiring scenery, makes every effort worthwhile.

FAQs on Donkia Pass

1. What is the elevation of Donkia Pass?

Donkia Pass, also known as Dongkha La, is situated at an elevation of approximately 18,156 feet (5,534 meters) above sea level, making it one of the highest mountain passes in the Himalayas.

2. Where is Donkia Pass located?

Donkia Pass is located in North Sikkim, India, and it connects Sikkim with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.

3. What is the best time to visit Donkia Pass?

The best time to visit Donkia is during the months of March to May and October, as the pass is closed during the winter (November to February) and monsoon seasons (June to September) due to harsh weather conditions.

4. How can one reach Donkia Pass?

Reaching Donkia typically involves trekking. The pass is located between Yumesamdong and Tso Lhamo Lake in Yumthang. The trek is challenging and should only be attempted by experienced trekkers.

5. What permits are required to visit Donkia Pass?

Due to its proximity to the Indo-Tibetan border, visitors need special permits to access Donkia Pass. These permits can be obtained through registered travel agencies and require clearance from the Indian Army.

6. What are the main attractions near Donkia Pass?

Nearby attractions include Tso Lhamo Lake, which is one of the highest lakes in the world, and Gurudongmar Lake. Both lakes offer stunning views and are significant sources of the Teesta River.

7. What are the challenges of trekking to Donkia Pass?

Trekking to Donkia Pass is challenging due to its high altitude, steep ascents, and thin air, which can make breathing difficult. Proper acclimatization and physical fitness are essential for a successful trek.

8. What should I carry while trekking to Donkia Pass?

Trekkers should carry warm clothing, including thermals, sufficient water, snacks, altitude sickness medication, and essential trekking gear. Binoculars are also recommended to fully appreciate the panoramic views.

9. Is there any accommodation available near Donkia Pass?

There are no accommodations at Donkia Pass itself due to its remote location. Trekkers usually stay in nearby villages or towns such as Yumthang or Lachen, which offer basic lodging facilities.

10. What is the historical significance of Donkia Pass?

Donkia Pass has historical significance as a trade route between India and Tibet. It was first documented by the botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1849, who described it as one of the most treacherous passes he had encountered.

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