One of the famous high mountain passes in Ladakh,
Jammu and Kashmir, is Khardzong La, otherwise known as Khardung La. The pass is
located near Leh. While some records incorrectly claim it to be the highest
motorable road at an elevation of 5602 meters in the Guinness Book of World
Records, the pass actually elevates up to 5359 metres. It is also sometimes
known as the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’. This pass is a famous getaway road amongst
nature and biking enthusiasts alike. You can sure be at the highest form of
peace in the serenity of this mountain road.
Khardung La was built at the entrance of Shyok
and Nubra Valleys in 1976. However, it was opened was general public only in
1988. It holds immense significance for India as it is the path to supplying
necessities to the base at the Siachen glacier. The seemingly impossible road
leads up to a breathtaking view of the mountain valley beneath. Bask in the
imagery of snow-capped mountain ranges till as far as the eye can see. On
reaching the very top, you can also take in the stunning views of the Karakoram
range and the Himalayas. The extreme weather conditions, heavy rains and
snowfall, cause the pass to close down from the months of July to August and
November to February.
La Weather & Best Time to Visit
Weather conditions are to be considered while
planning a trip to Khardung La. prefer visiting during the months of April to
June and September to October. The roads are considerably safer and drier
during the summer. The temperature goes up to as high as 21 degrees Celsius in
the shining sun. However, the nights can still get as cold as 7 degrees
Celsius. The path shuts down during July to August and November to February due
to heavy rains and excess snowfall.
Khardung La Really the Highest Motorable Road?
Some records wrongly claim Khardung La pass to be
the highest motorable road in the Guinness Book of World Records at elevation
of 5602 metres. In actuality, the elevation of the road stands at 5359 metres.
The elevation of the highest motorable road is Umling La Top built by Border
Road Organisation in 2017. The altitude of this road is at 19,300 feet. Many
other passes can also be visited like Marsimik La and Semo La.
The Guinness Book of World Records still
controversially claim Khardung La as the highest motorable pass in the world.
Khardung La is located near the village of
Khardong, near Leh, Ladakh. The pass is at an elevation of 5359 metres.
Khardong village is approximately 37 km north of Leh. the pass serves as an
entrance to the valleys of Shyok and Nubra. Going further up the Nubra valley,
you can reach the Siachen Glacier.
Leh, the capital of Ladakh, is also the nearest
town to Khardung La. Leh can be accessed by national highways going through
Manali and Srinagar. From New Delhi, you can also catch a direct flight to Leh.
From Leh, you can choose from the daily buses that go up to the Nubra Valley or
also go for the private taxi services available. Nubra Valley can be reached
via Khardung La. Some tourists also go up the pass on bikes and cycles. Before
you start your journey, make sure you have multiple copies of your permit that
will need to be submitted on multiple checkpoints on the way.
Till you reach South Pullu, the road conditions
are favourable. This is till about 25 km on Khardung La. However, further up,
you will come across broken road patches for about 14 km. This deterioration is
due to water streams of melted snow.
At such high elevation, oxygen
levels are low so avoiding smoking, drinking and other exhausting activities
that affect oxygen level in the body is preferred.
Make sure to consult your doctor
before you begin your trip to avoid any inconveniences.
Pack enough warm clothes, food and
water for the journey.
Permits will be required to be
submitted at multiple checkpoints throughout the journey, so get enough copies
of the same.
The harsh weather may cause health
inconveniences. At any point on the journey, if you feel discomfort, drive back
down to Leh.
The roads are extreme so it is
better to opt for an experienced driver.