Few places of interest in Sikkim fall under border area hence require Inner Line Permits to visit. You can get these permits via your tour operator. This post if for anyone who fits following:
- You want to visit Gurudongmar Lake [map], Zero Point [Map] in North Sikkim
- You want to visit Tsomgo Lake [Map], Nathu La, Zuluk in East Sikkim
- You want to travel with your own bike.
- You want to get permits yourself.
Our Situation: We were two bikers and one pillion. Both riders were also owners of their respective bikes. Our schedule was as follow:
Day 1: Leave Gangtok early morning and reach Lachen
Day 2: Leave Lachen early morning, visit Gurudongmar and reach Lachung
Day 3: Leave Lachung early morning, visit Ziro point and reach Mangan or Gangtok
Day 4: Leave Mangan/Gangtok early morning, visit Tsomgo lake, Nathu La and reach Zuluk
You will need following documents:
- Motorcycle RC
- Motorcycle Insurance certificate
- Motorcycle Pollution certificate
- Rider’s driving license
- Rider’s Indian citizenship proof. I gave Adhar card, I believe license would have worked too but I didn’t try. In the forms they ask for ‘voter id card’.
- Rider’s passport size photo: 3
- Pillion’s passport size photo: 3
- Pillion’s photo id proof
Step 1: You need to visit ‘Home Department’ at Manan Bhawan and get a form – Application for Bike expedition in Sikkim. Before you enter the building there is a counter where you need to get a ‘gate pass’. Only valid gate pass holders can enter the building. To get gate pass you need to show your bike documents. They are supposed to check all the documents but for me they only checked for bike RC copy and driver’s license. They double confirm that bike belongs to the riders. Others were showing originals but I just showed a photo copy. Once they are satisfied they will give you a gate pass. You go to home department and get a form.
Step 2: Fill the form and submit it with 2 copies of each document mentioned above. You just need to paste 1 photo, rest of the photos are needed elsewhere. If you need to come out of the building to get something you can give your gate pass to the police at the door and reuse that to enter again (same day). If you submit the documents before 11am they promise to give permissions same day else you need to collect it next day. Office opens at 10am
Step 3: You get 6 set of ‘permission letters‘. Note: These are just permissions letters, you still need permits.
Step 4: Take permission letters to 3rd mile police checkpost and get permits. You need to reach this place before 2pm. Show your Copy (envelop with your name on it) along with 2 photograph each of all tourists. They don’t check any vehicle documents (although I think they are supposed to). You have to pay Rs 20/- for each permit. The person will create permit, staple your pictures on it and will give one copy to you.
Step 5: Make 6 photo copies of the ‘permit’ (letter you got from 3rd mile) and the original permission letter. You will have to handover one copy at each checkpoint.
They do not give blanket permits for North and East Sikkim. I was told I have to come back from North Sikkim trip and get the permits for East Sikkim.
Step 6: Getting permits for East Sikkim. Either you can go to 3rd Mile (which opens after 9 or 10am) or Sikkim Tourist Office at MG Road (which opens at 7am) to get the permits. We reached Tourist office at 7am on Day 4, filled up a form, showed our original permission letter and immediately got the permits from the counter. This gentleman asked us to write bike registration numbers on the permission letters. Again Rs 20 per permit.
Step 7: Get 2 photo copies of the permit and the permission letter. You will need this at various checkpoints.
Step 8: Make sure you cross 3rd mile check post before 11am else you will not be allowed to pass.
Step 9: 7 KM before Nathu La entrance (Forgot name of the place, starts with T..), you need to show your permits to Army check post. There are clear signs that Nathu La permits are made here. They will keep the original copy of permissions meant for them and give you a ‘token number’ along with small signed hand written note of how many people, gender to let go. You have to handover these two things to security at the entrance. Entry closes 2pm.
- If you are going towards Zuluk make sure that your permit mentions that. This will be checked at Kupup police check post.
- If you are not the owner of the bike, you will need Notarized authority letter.
- No one asked for any bribe and all officials (home department, all police check posts, army posts) were very polite and helpful.