Umling La Pass, located at an altitude of 19,300ft, has overtaken Khardung La Pass to become the highest motorable road in the world. The construction of this road had been in the making for some time. This seemingly impossible feat has been achieved by the BRO (Border Road Organization) as part of “Project Himank”. If you thought you have seen all that Ladakh has to offer in terms of adventure, wait till you come across Umling La Pass. Driving on the Umling La Pass, as well as the route to Umling La Pass, is an experience quite special in itself.
If you are looking to find the exact location of Umling La Pass on Google Maps, you will be disappointed. Umling La Pass has not yet found its presence on Google Maps. However, what is known from reliable sources is that Umling La Pass, stretching to a distance of almost 86km, connects Chisumle and Demchok villages. Both these villages lie in close proximity to the Indo-China border in the eastern sector.
The area around the Umling La Pass is extremely barren and contains no trace of civilization. While traversing the pass, you can feel the winds slapping your face from two directions at the same time. The views leading to the Umling La Pass, and at the pass itself, will have you up on your toes at all times. Of course, deciding to travel through this pass is certainly no child’s play. For, the pass is as risky as it is beautiful. You will experience an incredible adrenalin rush while your heart beats fast all the time. However, if you are able to overcome all these fears, you will have the experience of a lifetime.
There are 3 routes through which you can reach Umling La Pass and each of them provides a unique experience. Let us have a look at the 3 routes that lead to Umling La Pass.
Route 1: Fukche-Koyul-Demchok-Umling La
This route will take you through Fukche, Koyul and Demchok. Demchok village was divided into two parts during the 1962 Indo-China War. Its considered to be one of the most beautiful routes in Ladakh, with the drive from Fukche post to Demchok being nothing short of surreal. The various colors of the landscape along with the beauty of River Indus accompanies you all the way. The road offers you views of the Chinese roads on the other side of the border, as the border is just a stone’s throw away from this place.
You need various special permits signed by the District Magistrate of Leh to travel on this route.
Route 2: Hanle-Photi La-Umling La
This is one of the most preferred routes for the people traveling to Umling La Pass. To follow this route, head straight from Leh to Photi La via Hanle. Hanle is famous for its observatory and is one of the few places in India where you can observe the Milky Way Galaxy.
The regular permit obtained from Leh is enough for traveling on this route. However, civilians are not permitted to descend to Demchok from Umling La Pass as it requires a special permit.
Route 3: Hanle-Ukdungle-Umling La Pass
This route will take you directly through the second water crossing without crisscrossing the first bridge. All you need is a normal permit for traveling on this route.
The best time for travelling to Umling La Pass is during the month of June, when the roads are open or just before October, before the road is closed. The reason behind this is that during these months, the area is less visited by tourists and as such, you can enjoy the scenic views in complete leisure.
The need for obtaining special permits for traveling to Umling La Pass depends on the kind of route you take to reach it. If you are traveling through Fukche-Koyul-Demchok-Umling La, then you will need special permits signed by the District Magistrate of Leh. If you are traveling through Hanle-Photi La-Umling La route, then the regular permit obtained from Leh is sufficient. For traveling on Hanle-Ukdungle-Umling La Pass, a normal permit is all you need.
Umling La Pass, located at an altitude of 19,300ft, is characterized by extremely thin air, which makes even normal breathing very difficult. If you are suffering from respiratory problems or any other kind of heart condition, you should avoid traveling to this pass. Moreover, in Ladakh, AMS (altitude mountain sickness) is quite common, and you should acclimatize yourself properly before deciding to take a trip to Umling La Pass. In addition, you should always remember to carry extra supplementary oxygen.
You should also keep in mind that special permits are required to travel in certain areas. The nearest filling station is Karu which lies close to Leh, so it is advisable to load up on your reserves.