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Khardung La – The Highest Motorable Road in The World

Khardung La Pass is a gateway to some of the most unexplored and enchanting landscapes. This famous mountain route is very popular among adventure seekers and regular tourists. Located in the Leh the Indian Union Territory, Khardung La is situated at an elevation of 5,359 meters. It is set to be the most motorable pass worldwide. Historically speaking, Khardung La is quite important as it is located on the major caravan route that connects Leh to Kashgar in Central Asia.

During the Second World War, attempts were made to move the war well to China via this route. Khardung La was made in the year 1976 and was accessible to public motor vehicles in the year 1988. The route is maintained by the Border Road Organization and is of considerable strategic importance as it is used to carry goods to the Siachen Glacier.

Best Time to Visit Khardung La

Primarily the months between March-May and September – October are the best for traveling to Mountain Pass. When you can visit Khardung La Pass, here is a breakdown of some other seasons.

March-May (summer)

The region sees an abundance of sunshine, with temperatures around 21 ° C during summer. Nights are relatively colder than daytime because temperatures drop to 7 ° C or below.

June-August (Spring)

Khardung La is inaccessible during the months of June and August due to continuous rains.

January February

Wintertime is equally challenging as the region receives heavy snowfall, making it impossible for tourists to access the road. Temperatures fall to -30 ° C during winter.

How to Reach Khardung La

Khardung La is 39.7 km from Leh by road. It does not have an airport, so you have to take a flight to Leh and from there you can book a taxi to reach Khardung Pass. Here are some other options to reach Khardung La Pass from Leh.

To reach Khardung La from Leh it is highly advisable to take a taxi or bike. By car, passengers will reach the destination within 1 hour and 23 minutes. If you take a bike, you will reach the pass within 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Bus service is available daily from Leh to Nubra Valley which passes through Khardung La Pass.

Essential Information About Khardung La

  • Moving towards the Nubra Valley, the road is again in a very bad condition until the North Pullu Post. After crossing the post, it starts to get better.
  • The distance between Leh and Khardung La is 39 kilometers.
  • The first 25 kilometers until the South Pullu Checkpoints are very smooth. There might be some bad patches here and there, but the road is in good condition overall.
  • The road starts to deteriorate past the South Pullu Checkpoint until the very top. It consists of melted snow, broken rocks, landslides, etc.
  • Inner Line Permit grants permission for traveling to a protected area for a certain amount of time.
  • The issuance of the document is mandatory for all the citizens who do not belong to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Foreigners are required to obtain a Ladakh Protected Area Permit before visiting the region. 
  • The ILP is valid for a period of one year for foreigners and a total of three weeks for Indians.
  • The entry fee for the Inner Line Permit is 20 INR per day. The total cost of the permit will cost you 500 INR.

Things To Keep In Mind

Here are some of the important tips that you must keep in mind before visiting Khardung La Pass:

  • Oxygen and air pressure Levels are extremely low at Khardung La Pass. Running around or indulging in strenuous activities can lead to sickness or nausea.
  • Do not spend more than 15-20 minutes at the top as it can cause altitude sickness and breathing problems.
  • In order to get accustomed to high altitude, make sure to spend 3-4 days in Leh or any other similar region before heading out to Khardung La.
  • Proper Acclimatization is mandatory before visiting Khardung La Pass.
  • If you are experiencing altitude sickness while ascending towards the pass and the sickness doesn’t seem to subside, it’s highly advisable to descend back.
  • It is advised to perform a thorough check of the vehicle before heading to the pass to be on the safer side. 

Things To Carry 

Here is the list of the most important items that you should carry to Khardung La Pass:

  • A waterproof backpack
  • Lots of water
  • Pain killers
  • Medical Kit
  • Sturdy Shoes
  • Fully Charged Batteries
  • Large Containers of Fuel
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen lotion
  • Carry Diamox in order to treat high altitude sickness.
  • Food packages. It is advisable to eat light food at regular intervals.
  • Chewing gum, energy bars, chocolate bars.
  • Portable oxygen cylinders
  • Extra woolen clothing and raincoats

Do’s

  • Always carry dry food items and lots of water
  • It is advisable to carry Diamox in order to treat any signs of high altitude sickness.
  • Carry woolen clothing. Wear layers of clothing instead of donning one thick jacket.
  • Carry spare fully charged batteries for your equipment as the region faces a major electricity cut.
  • Wear sunglasses and apply lots of sunscreen in order to protect your skin from the harsh sun rays.
  • Carry ID proofs.
  • Carry a proper medical kit.

Don’t’s

  • Do not litter. Ladakh is a plastic-free zone so make sure to avoid throwing plastic.
  • Avoid any sort of indulgence, be it smoking or alcohol. Doing so will lead to serious respiratory problems. 
  • Do not overexert yourself.

Travellers Tip

  • If you are choosing not to drive the vehicle by yourself, then hire a professional and experienced driver.
  • Carry necessary medication along with you in order to treat high altitude sickness.
  • If sickness doesn’t subside after taking proper medication, immediately descend the climb.
  • No accommodation or dwelling options are available near Khardung La Pass. Travelers are advised to either bring their own tents or stay in the nearby towns.
  • The travel permit is extremely mandatory. Without the permit, you can’t enter Khardung La Pass. Tourists can avail the permit from tourist agencies or the travel department. 
  • Get your model of vehicle serviced before heading to the pass. Since the path only deteriorates with further advancement, it’s important to make sure that your vehicle is in good condition in order to have a smooth journey.  
  • If you intend to travel here by bike, then it is advisable to buy a mask to cover your mouth as the roads here are constantly filled with trucks that emit a lot of smoke and tar.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Khardung La

Q. What is Khardung La Pass famous for?

A – Famous as the gateway to the Nubra and Shyok valleys in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the highest motorable pass in the world. It is packed with tourists coming from Leh and staying long enough to click some pictures.

Q. What is the best time to visit Khardung La Pass?

A – The best time to visit Khardung La Pass is from April to June and September to October. Khardung La Pass is open from 9:00 am in the morning and closes at 5:00 pm.

Q. Where is Khardung La?

A – Perched at an altitude of 18,379 feet, Khardung La is the highest motorable road in the world and serves as the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s northernmost state. It is a high mountain pass in the Karakoram range, north of Leh.

Q. Which is the highest pass in the world?

A – It has an elevation of 5,359 meters (17,582 ft). Local summit signs and dozens of stores selling shirts in Leh incorrectly claim that it is around 5,602 meters (18,379 ft) in height and is the world’s highest motorable pass.

Q. How do you reach Khardung La Pass?

A – You can take a train to Jammu Tawi Railway Station from where you need to go to Leh by road via Manali-Leh Highway. Alternatively, you can take a train to Srinagar Railway Station and reach Leh via the Srinagar-Leh Highway. From Leh, it is the same route to Khardung La as mentioned above.

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