Khardung La Pass

Khardung La Pass


Khardung La is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and a daunting pass that fills the nerves of the travelers with thrill and joy. Situated at an altitude of 18,379 ft. above sea level, Khardung La makes one feel at the top of the world. Alternatively known as the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’, Khardung La is the inspiration of motorbike, automobile, and mountain biking expeditions. This makes it an adventure aficionados’ paradise indeed. It also connects Leh with the Zanskar and Nubra Region which makes it an important element of the entire Ladakh Circuit.

A visit to Khardung La is one of the must things to do in Ladakh. The picturesque panoramas and pure air lure tourists from every nook and corner of the world. Khardung Pass (as ‘La’ implies ‘pass’ in the Tibetan Language) is the gateway to the remote Nubra and Shyok valleys. The mountain pass holds a special significance as it is the way to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier. It offers astonishing views of the twisting roads up the mountain and the awesome valley.

Everything you need to know about Khardung La Pass before visiting

History of Khardung La

This mountain pass in the newly made union territory of Ladakh was constructed for motors in 1976 and opened in 1988 for the public. It was during the Second World War when the first attempt to give a war well to China was done through this route. Like every other high altitude pass, Khardung La is also maintained by BRO (Border Roads Organisation). This road is not only important to India from a tourism point of view but holds strategic importance as well. It is a way to carry goods and troops to the Siachen Glacier making this a very important pass for India. 

Weather in Khardung La

Summers are comfortable but it can snow at any point in time owing to the high altitude but the months between May to August are the best time to visit Khardung La. But that doesn’t mean you can visit here. The temperature at this point varies abruptly depending on the clouds that make it pretty difficult to predict the temperature here. But during winters the temperature can go as low as -40 degrees and in summers it can go up to 20 degrees. And when it snows, there have been times when the place gets wrapped in 10 feet high snow sheets but all thanks to BRO they keep clearing the snow for easy commuting. 

Road Conditions to Reach Khardung La

The distance between Leh city and Khardung La is approximately 40 km with a stretch of patchy road and a major portion being muddy, filled with snow melted slush, granules, and a lot more challenges. Reaching Khardung La is one of a kind feeling. But, it isn’t a child’s play to be at such an altitude. 

The first 24 km of the road from Leh to Khardung Pass, i.e. till South Pullu checkpoint is made up of concrete. The next 16 km of the road, i.e. till North Pullu is uneven, consisting of dirt, loose rocks, and some puddles with snow melted water.

How to Reach Khardung La from Leh?

Khardung La lies at a distance of roughly 40 km from Leh. The breathtaking views en route make the journey worth experiencing at least once. Although this pass is a gateway to Nubra Valley, people grab an opportunity to reach and spend quality time here only.

There are four stops from Leh to Khardung La are Leh – South Pullu – North Pullu- Khardung La. Vehicles coming from Leh are allowed from 9 am to 1 pm. Similarly, the exit timings from Khardung La to Leh are from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Things to carry while traveling to Khardung La

As thrilling as it may sound, Khardung La can be life-threatening if not taken the right measures. Here are some things that you should carry before traveling to this high and daunting motorable pass of India. 

  • Take acute mountain sickness seriously and get acclimated well before heading to the pass.
  • Carry chewing gums, chocolate, and energy bars with you.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  • Keep on eating light food at regular intervals.
  • Do keep some alternatives for oxygen like camphor or portable oxygen cylinders.
  • Take waterproof backpacks.
  • Keep some pain relievers with you.
  • Woolen clothes, extra socks, and raincoats are a must.
  • A good quality camera to capture superb moments.
  • Fully charged batteries and chargers.
  • Examine your vehicle thoroughly before the journey begins.
  • Large containers for fuel.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen lotions
  • Sturdy shoes/ hiking shoes/ riding boots are recommended
  • Keep a medical kit in your backpack

Do I require any permits?

As of 6th August 2021, Leh-Ladakh tourism has lifted the need for any permit for visiting any part of Leh-Ladakh. Previously it was mandatory to have a permit to cross Khardung La, visit Pangong Lake, and some other places but now it isn’t required. 

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