If you ever want to feel at the top of the world, Khardung La Pass Ladakh is where you go. Also known as ‘Khardzong La,’ it is a mountain pass situated at an altitude of 18,379 ft. above the sea-level. It is one of the highest motorable passes in India and is located in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. It is among the highest motorable passes which are perched at an altitude of about 5359 meters. It is a prominent place and a paradise for adventure junkies and mountain biking lovers.
Khardung La pass has been claimed as the highest motorable road in the world at an elevation of 5602 meters whereas its actual elevation is calculated again and it is 5359 meters. The highest motorable road is Umling La Top which was built by Border Road Organisation (BRO) in 2017. Umling La is perched at an altitude of 19,300 feet. There are also several other passes like Marsimik La and Semo La. This is a controversial debate as Guinness World Record still shows Khardung La pass is the world’s highest motorable pass.
Etymology and Location
The word “La” in ‘Khardung La’ connotes to a ‘pass’ in the Tibetan language. Khardung La is a gateway to the remote Nubra and Shyok valleys. It is also popularly called the “Pass of Lower Castle,” and is extremely known for its mountain bike expeditions. Again, the pass is extremely useful for India as it is used to carry supplies to Siachen glacier. Khardung La is situated on the Ladakh range, near the village of Khardong which is 37 km to the north of Leh.
The Beauty of Khardung La
As you make your way up, the twisting and meandering roads with spectacular mountain valley views will leave you spell-bound. The picturesque panoramas and pure air surely make Khardung La a tourist’s paradise. This place is visited by adventure seekers and biking aficionados from every nook and corner of the world for an enthralling experience. From the top, you can resuscitate in the amazing views of the Karakoram Range and the Himalayas. Thus the breathtaking views en route make the journey worth experiencing.
Khardung La Permit
People have to take Khardung La permit to visit here. The permit can be obtained from the DC Office Leh. Without this, the tourist cannot visit here and it is must to carry the original identity proof and photocopies of the permits which must be shown at the frisking points.
How to Reach Khardung La
There are four stops from Leh to Khardung La:
Leh- Phyang- South Pullu- Khardung La.
However, it must be kept in mind that the entry and exit timings are restricted due to the pass gaining popularity day by day. In order to manage the traffic smoothly, vehicles coming from Leh are allowed from 9 am to 1 pm. In the same way, the exit timings for Khardung La to Leh are from 1 pm to 5 pm.
By Air: Regular flights connect Leh with Delhi, Jammu, and Srinagar.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is Kalka. From here, one can reach Manali and from there a taxi or bus can be hired to reach Leh. One can also get down at Jammu to reach Leh.
By Road: From Leh, you can pass through South Pullu and North Pullu. Again, a daily bus service to Nubra valley also passes over Khardung. If you are here for all the fun, an ideal ride would be a taxi or bike to reach the pass.
Road Conditions to Khardung La Pass
Though it’s an exciting experience to reach Khardung La again it’s not a child’s play given the road conditions. The first 24 km from Leh to Khardung La which is till South Pullu checkpoint is paved or made of concrete. However, the next 15 km, that is, North Pullu is uneven and consists of dirt, loose rocks and rivulets appearing due to the melting of snow. But beyond this point, it is easy as the roads are well-maintained.
At each checkpoint, photocopies of permits are required for submission by the tourists.
Best time to Visit Khardung La Pass
The best time to visit the pass is between April to June and from September to October. However, the weather may vary and the nights can get cold when the temperature drops down to 7 degrees. July to August and November to February is not the ideal time to go because of incessant rains that render Khardung La inaccessible. Again, the pass is also sometimes closed down during these months.
Places to visit near Khardung La Pass
Khardung La Pass is one of the highest motorable passes in the world and is situated in the Ladakh region. It connects the Nubra Valley to Leh. This place is situated in the middle of the Nubra and Leh and is situated in the proximity of numerous tourist attractions. Places to visit near Khardung La are Nubra Valley, Panamic, Leh, Pangong Lake, etc.
Some Useful Links of Leh Ladakh Tourism: